Violating Community Standards

I had firmly in my head, what I was going to write about today. But you know how things happen. We see things, we read things, and suddenly there is a whole new post bursting out of us? That’s me today.

English: Facebook Silhouette
Image credit:

Earlier this morning I came across a picture on a Facebook profile which I found offensive and disturbing (not the image above).  I know I’m prone to be disturbed by such images depicting violence, and so usually I have to take a step back and ask myself ‘would others be offended by this picture?’  I thought they would have, so reported the picture to Facebook, hoping that they would also find it offensive and remove it.

I’m not posting the picture here because of how much it disturbs me, and I don’t want others to be disturbed by content on my blog.  But it was an image of a woman holding a hand gun to a man’s head.

This is what Facebook reported back to me:


Photo not removed


Thank you for your report. We carefully reviewed the photo you reported, but found it doesn’t violate our community standard on graphic violence so we didn’t remove it.

Someone has a gun pointed at another person’s head, and that’s doesn’t violate community standards?  Excuse me, but I find that refusal almost more disturbing than the image I objected to.

Interestingly when I followed their hyperlink to graphic violence, I found a lot of words but no specific definition of graphic violence.  What they did do was define violence and threats as:

“Safety is Facebook’s top priority. We remove content and may escalate to law enforcement when we perceive a genuine risk of physical harm, or a direct threat to public safety. You may not credibly threaten others, or organize acts of real-world violence. Organizations with a record of terrorist or violent criminal activity are not allowed to maintain a presence on our site. We also prohibit promoting, planning or celebrating any of your actions if they have, or could, result in financial harm to others, including theft and vandalism.”   (1.)

But that’s talking about what people say on Facebook, rather than what they depict in their images.  What happened to the phrase we all know ‘actions speak louder than words’?  The same ‘images speak louder than words’ could apply, but my guess is that because it wasn’t the owner of the Facebook profile portrayed holding a gun to someone else’s head then everything is fine.  That’s not fine too me at all.

I accept that the gun laws in my country are very different from in other parts of the world.  It is one thing that makes me glad to be a kiwi.  But look what the world was faced with just a few weeks ago when 28 adults and children were tragically killed by gunfire.  The idealist in me would like to think that social media would have reacted quickly and prohibited this type of violent image to be shown.

Personally I can cope with seeing the image, although I find it very disturbing and unnecessary.  I can manage my reactions so that I don’t think that the behaviour depicted in the image is acceptable behaviour.

But my 13-year-old nephew can see this image too, from his Facebook profile.  I think he is a pretty wise kid, but he is a kid and I don’t think it’s acceptable that he is confronted by this sort of stuff simply in keeping up with his friends.

I’m wondering what would make it unacceptable to Facebook?  All I can think of (and I apologise for the graphic impression) is that is the image included a bullet travelling into the victims head.

Facebook say above that “Safety is Facebook’s top priority“.  What a joke.  What safety do they actually care about, other than their own?  If impressionable minds see the type of image I reported today, they assume that such behaviour is normal and acceptable.

I will never accept that one person holding a gun to another’s head is either normal and acceptable.  And God help us if our society gets to the point where it is.

Right now there are people talking about wanting to keep guns away from people with mental illness, but it is not just those people who need to be kept away from guns.  It’s the people who think that the use of guns against others is okay.

And in that group, I’d be inclined to put Facebook. Shame on them, they have an opportunity to take a stand against gun violence yet they aren’t interested.

After-thought:  There were some other issues about this Facebook profile which should have been of concern to Facebook too.  Don’t get me started…

And apologies to any American’s personally offended by my use of this quote today.  I simply use it, not to offend, but to make a point:

“You can’t talk about fucking in America, people say you’re dirty. But if you talk about killing somebody, that’s cool.” 

―    Richard Pryor


18 thoughts on “Violating Community Standards

  1. Cate,
    Wow. I have no other response yet. The quote was appropriate. The US is definitely a confusing and internally conflicted and confused place to live. We also tend to wear blinders that we aren’t the only occupiers of social media.

    Be well,

    1. Hi Kina, Thanks for your comment and if there is more later, I would love to hear it. I think we, the general public, seem to have little regard for anyone but ourselves and that we can do whatever we like. No doubt someone will tell me that’s a constitutional right, but I think that’s a shame.

      1. I think there’s a misapprehension of what freedom means and I think this is your underlying point. Freedom without accepting social responsibility and understanding that our choices, words, and actions have wider consequences that achieving our own intent and exercising our rights.

      2. Actually I think you’re right. Freedom is not about just doing whatever we want, to heck with the consequences. Freedom is about taking care of each other. But then I suspect it’s an up hill battle to convince a lot of people of that. 😦

      3. Cate,
        I completely understand and identify with that assessment. However, you might be surprised. I am encountering so many people who are being active agents for positive change in large and small ways, especially in our generation and the ones behind ours. It’s like the hippies bred with the “greatest generation” and an awakening that began in the 60’s is beginning to come to fruition. There is a generation of compassionate, intelligent, enlightened, and mellowed out people of integrity who are rising up against hate, corporate and political malfeasance, intolerance, and cruelty.

        Keep doing what you do, because it is making a difference, and I’ll keep doing what I am. Our influence isn’t additive, it’s exponential.


      4. I’m not at all surprised by that and I believe that every drop adds to the ocean. That said, in my view influential businessees like Facebook need to be more socially responsible.

  2. good grief. Just reading the description of the picture almost sent me into a trigger-induced… whatever it is that I go into.

    Thank goodness that picture didn’t show up in my feed. There’s too much wrong with the world

    1. I apologise for the trigger. It is a hard topic to talk about without causing triggers of some type. That doesn’t make it ok, but it does demonstrate perhaps why such images shouldn’t be plastered in front of us. Get youself a cup of Columbian Hot Chocolate and relax for a bit. ❤

      1. No worries. I could have stop reading but I chose to not to. And yes, those images should not be plastered in front of us. I don’t care if some people call it art (?) or live whatever.

        If they want to know what real life is, then they should go volunteer for a year in any of the third world countries and help save lives instead. That’s a much better way to get in touch with the reality of the world. Stupid pictures like that don’t do anyone a favour.

        And a hot chocolate is not a bad idea. I tried a while ago but I have no milk at home and it’s 20 below zero right now so I ain’t going out to buy some 😉

  3. I think that you will find a lot of people dont think twice about these kind of images anymore because they are everywhere and in a lot of the things that people do. eg. TV, internet, games, movies. I have unfortunately had a gun pointed at me on two occasions and it took me a while to be able to watch movies etc with armed robberies, but I too now have been numbed by the world and it being in our faces everyday.

    1. I’m sorry that you were face by that situation. I think you’re right that people don’t think twice, but I think that is a problem because it suggests that violence like this has become acceptable to the general public. That;s something I find unacceptable. We have to stop and think about how what we do can impact other people.

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