First Tumblr and now Facebook!
Censorship has been coming down hard this week, though this latest story has been months in the making.
On October 15, Facebook updated its community standards to specify what counts as “sexual solicitation.” PC Mag reports that the social media platform sees any mention of sexual roles and expression of sexual preference as a warning sign for sexual solicitation.
These “red flags” of “abusive behavior” will not only be monitored on Facebook posts but also links and images shared as well. This also goes for other social media apps owned by Facebook like Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
Again, this change went into effect in October, and is only now being noticed. Why, you might ask? Because of Tumblr’s recent announcement that it will be banning all adult content on December 17th. Many are comparing the two social media platforms and noting their specific effect on queer culture.
Many LGBTQ users use Facebook to engage and discuss queer issues and perspectives on life. There are a multitude of Facebook groups and chats where users think they have the privilege to express themselves, their sexualities, and their ways of life.
But now, it appears that Facebook is openly opposing such discussions.
In addition, Facebook users mysteriously saw a crackdown on LGBTQ advertisements on the social media platform in October. Users complained after many LGBTQ themed ads were blocked by the company. Facebook then told the Washington Post that this surge of censorship was an error in the system.
As the Washington Post wrote:
"The rejections, the majority of which Facebook told The Post were in error, underscore the company’s challenges in regulating the massive amount of information flowing through its service, an issue that burst into the fore after the disclosure that Russian-state actors used advertisements on Facebook to sow discord during the 2016 U.S. election. But they also touch on a deeper tension as the company seeks to better regulate political uses of its platform."
On the outside, it’s hard to tell how these community standards are effecting LGBTQ groups and organizations. But, we can provide a possible example.
One Instinct reader messaged us to express how FB had flagged two attempts at sharing one of our articles. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a “flesh piece” sharing an Instagram model or naughty music video. Instead, it was an article about how Taiwan’s lawmakers are trying to settle for gay unions instead of legalizing gay marriage.
While the post was approved after the Instincter requested a second review, this is a sign that Facebook’s algorithm is notched against LGBTQ content. Of course, this isn’t whole and total proof, but we LGBTQ social media users should be on our guard.
It seems the American internet is currently on a wave of censorship, and LGBTQ users are taking the hardest hit.