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Facebook’s New Censorship Policy Reveals a “Sex Panic” on the Platform

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According to a report by PC Magazine, in the wake of Tumblr’s ban on adult content, Facebook has revised their content-moderation protocols to crack down on any sexually suggestive posts on its platform. The policy, which includes guidelines against everything from soliciting nudes to discussing sexual positions and posting erotic art, is just the latest bullet point a worrying trend of what some have called a “sex panic” online.

“The change was prompted, in large part, by conversations with our content reviewers who told us that the sexual exploitation policy did not adequately distinguish between exploitation (e.g. ‘My ex was a slut. Look at the photos she sent me.’) and solicitation (e.g. ‘Looking for swingers. Friday at 8 PM, [name of bar]. Wear pink.’)” a spokesperson wrote to PC in an email. The new policy, which was implemented October 15 and only recently has begun to be discovered by users, expressly makes both scenarios against the platform’s Community Standards.

In addition to prohibiting content “that attempts to coordinate or recruit for adult sexual activities” like filming pornography, any sexual performances or even erotic massages, soliciting “sex or sexual partners,” “sex chat or conversations,” or “nude images,” is also not allowed. Yes, that means the jokey “send nudes” tag you end every boring post with, is technically not allowed. And don’t think you can get sneaky with the moderators and slide one pass them by implying.

The new guidelines also ban “content that engages in implicit sexual solicitation,” using sexual slang, sex positions, state of arousal, or even “vague suggestive statements, such as ‘looking for a good time tonight.’” The guidelines are quite comprehensive in how Puritanical they are.

To explain why the platform is handing down these restrictions, the company said, “because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content and it may impede the ability to connect with their friends and the broader community.” Hm. So they are just trying to make sure we have a chance at accumulating the most friends as possible? Whether or not we want to? Got it!

A clause that prohibits mentions of “sexual positions or fetish scenarios” seem  primed to destroy important Facebook groups dedicated to the kink and leather subcultures. These groups provide members not only with a sense of community and kinship, but also serve as news forums for keeping up with what is a bustling, global community. Seeing them go would be a major blow to these subcultures.


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