Mathew Mackie

Social media blanket censorship on flying carpet meme


Approx Reading Time-10Facebook users are seeing their posts censored without an official reason, with a meme that satirises Trump’s Muslim ban at the forefront of it.


Oh, I come from a land, a faraway place, where the pimpled trolls roam, it’s flat and immense and the heat is intense. It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home. I’m talking, of course, of Facebook. However, all is not well; there’s something puzzling afoot, for those within the Cave of Wonders in California have kicked over the lamp and loosed the genie of apparent censorship.

The question that needs to be immediately asked is: Do you find this offensive?


Allow me to refine the question. Do you find this offensive compared to everything else you see on a daily basis? Seeing is seemingly disbelieving, for all the thousandfold memes about tagging your friends who would entertain sexual congress with a swine, or the blunt appraisals of someone’s apparent personal tastes are deemed fine, however, the above, almost childish pastiche of Trump’s Muslim ban, soon became this:

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 3.02.56 pm

The meme, originally published on premium toilet-time leafers FuckJerry, vanished from the walls of users, re-appearing with the warning, with users that The Big Smoke spoke to claiming everything in between “obvious censorship” and “(it’s) time to reach for the tinfoil hat”. One user timelined the whole fiasco, claiming that the warning card shown above actually disappeared, before reappearing 24 hours later.

Obviously, it is now in the hands of what can assume would be that of the overworked appeals department, but until the point of review, censorship seems to be the short-term solution.

Now, it seemingly is a matter of context, an active search of “checks and balances” to ensure that is all well.

But the guidelines don’t exactly match that.

According to the Facebook Community guidelines, the policy of banning posts that qualify as “graphic content” is as follows:

“Sometimes, those experiences and issues involve violence and graphic images of public interest or concern, such as human rights abuses or acts of terrorism. In many instances, when people share this type of content, they are condemning it or raising awareness about it. We remove graphic images when they are shared for sadistic pleasure or to celebrate or glorify violence.”

Under the section labelled “Hate speech”, Facebook states that:

“We allow humour, satire, or social commentary related to these topics , and we believe that when people use their authentic identity, they are more responsible when they share this kind of commentary. For that reason, we ask that Page owners associate their name and Facebook Profile with any content that is insensitive, even if that content does not violate our policies. As always, we urge people to be conscious of their audience when sharing this type of content.”

The review process purportedly takes around 48 hours, and according to Monika Bicker, Facebook’s head of global policy management, as printed by the New York Times, “Facebook wants to take into account the full context of a post … For example, a victim of a violent attack might post images on Facebook as a way of raising public awareness. ‘Sometimes the best way to share information about atrocities in the world is Facebook … We recognize that is a very challenging issue.’”

Which is true. Facebook look to purport a free exchange of ideas – hence the eventual decision over banning or permitting the footage of beheadings – which is all well and good, but this sudden rash of anti-political monitoring seems odd, even if only for the timing.

It could be a coincidence, or a reaction to the 45th President’s administration, we don’t know, so we throw ourselves into the warm arms of conjecture. Could be that Facebook is now monitoring anti-Muslim sentiment, even at the plastic level of memes, in an effort to not to stir the racial pot further in the US? Or could it be something more sinister? The reasons why aren’t visible but both options do have a similar acrid odour of control about them whether this is happening for our benefit or not. It’s a matter of detail.

But my final question is this:

What do you find more offensive? The meme, or the parental figures that decide on your behalf?


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