What Does Facebook Have Against Nipple Bulges and Camel Toes?

Everyone knows about Rihanna’s boobie blunder on Instagram, and fashion folks are familiar with Grace Coddington‘s own titillating transgression on the Facebook-owned app. Even The New Yorker famously ran afoul of Facebook’s censors by showing cartoon cans on a post-coital Eve in the Garden of Eden (Adam’s own cartoon nipples were, of course, totally fine). 

Now Facebook has targeted yours truly, temporarily blocking our page. No reason has been given, but there’s been a lot of waving around of their Community Standards, that end-of-discussion smokescreen that couldn’t be more vague. A while back, however, Gawker got its hands on a document with a list of procedures that Facebook expects its ‘monitors’ to follow (we use fauxtation marks because these monitors are not full-time employees working out of FB’s California HQ, but people working from home in developing countries and earning $1 an hour). Hilariously, the document says monitors must confirm an offense (meaning they must remove it) if it meets criteria like “naked ‘private parts’ including female nipple bulges and naked butt cracks.” So that would explain two previous photo scrubs from our page: Steven Klein’s underwear campaign for Dsquared and a Juergen Teller self-portrait with Charlotte Rampling, in which a small pube tuft can be seen peeking out from between his legs — although you might need a magnifying glass. Seriously, Facebook removed those from our Page.

Even more hilarious are instructions to remove “blatant depictions of camel toes and moose knuckles.” Oh, god! Did we accidentally upload an image of those most unholy of crimes against decency?! We raced through recent posts and found…none. Hmmm, what other egregious displays of nudity had we inadvertently let slip through the modesty stars we’ve been putting over private parts for many months? We checked…still nothing. 

Obviously something was up. You hear about hordes of self-righteous trolls who spend their days ‘reporting’ any page, any post, any pic for any reason. What could they possibly be latching onto, so sure in their belief that they know best what everyone should be exposed to? We started to wonder if our infraction stemmed from that reliable old wedge issue, eating disorders. If that were the case, could one of these pics from Tom Ford’s and Calvin Klein’s spring collections be the culprit, both of which garnered robust user commentary?

We simply don’t know what our villainy was because Facebook won’t tell us (although we’ve managed to achieve one small miracle —getting in touch with an actual person, but that person will only confirm the existence of the issue). If we only knew the evil we’ve wrought, we could change our horrid ways and get back into Facebook’s good graces. Our minds wandered and wandered. Maybe it was one of our occasional anti-war views that sent a far-right nutcase into a reporting frenzy, or a pro-transgender sentiment that did the same. Digging deeper still, we found a recent post that featured the work of animation artist Jeff Hong, who portrays Disney characters in unhappy real-life scenarios. But the art cautions against climate change, against deforestation, against animal testing, against racism. Clearly there were more thought-provoking and satirical than socially delinquent and actionable.

Maybe the issue isn’t complicated at all. Maybe it’s as simple as someone out there finding Miley Cyrus’s art for Jeremy Scott’s show a sad statement on modern celebrity — in which case, join the club, buddy, don’t report the messenger.

We didn’t want to believe people when they dismissed Facebook as a dumping ground for quizzes, cat videos, and ice-bucket challenges. Anything with a whiff of controversy, they sneered, is better left to other social media. After this debacle, we’d have to agree. Add to that FB’s ever-present algorithm that rewards G-rated posts, its ghastly anti-privacy practices, its sadistic “real name” policy that’s driving performers with aliases (i.e. drag queens, who we should all cherish!) to the brink, its large donation to a virulently anti-gay politician in Utah, and you start to see a disturbing pattern of abuse — Facebook’s abuse.

We’d love to know why we — a mere fashion site — were arbitrarily singled out. Because, Facebook, it isn’t just us you think you’re punishing. You’re also punishing the designers, big and small, who kindly asked us for a FB post to help promote their spring collection, as well as the fashion school that requested, through FB, our help in showing their students’ graduate work. Not to mention all the unknown, unsung names we support on a daily basis. So won’t you tell us what’s up, Facebook? What gives? Don’t you like us anymore?

UPDATE 10/24/2014: After several back-channel emails, Facebook has restored our page. Initial reasons given for the ban included “abuse” and “hate.” The exact posts and/or language, however, were not specified. The last reason given was “error.”

Leave a comment