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.
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