CYBERSPACE—Within the past few days, international social networking platform Facebook has expanded its ban on nearly anything having to do with sexuality. Although the platform had a wide variety of bans on similar material before, the current move follows closely on Tumblr’s announcement earlier this week that it would no longer allow sexually explicit imagery or most nudity on its site, which itself appears to be yet another reaction to FOSTA, the federal ban, passed earlier this year, on sex worker ads on sites like Craigslist and the now-defunct Backpage.com.
A list of the banned material can be found under Title III, Section 15 of Facebook’s “Community Standards”—the same nonsense phrase used in anti-obscenity legislation. Obviously, many Facebook users want to talk about sexuality, and Facebook is saying that though those people are subscribers, they aren’t actually part of the “Facebook community.”
The ban is wide-ranging and targets some of the mildest sexual material and innuendo. For example, now banned are “Vague suggestive statements such as ‘looking for a good time tonight'”; “Sexualized slang”; “Sexual hints such as mention of sexual roles, positions or fetish scenarios”; “Sexually explicit language that goes beyond mere naming or mentioning a state of sexual arousal or an act of sexual intercourse”; and much more.
“These guidelines sound like they were extracted from The Handmaid’s Tale,” commented Free Speech Coalition Board member and sex-positive activist Sister Roma. “This is so vague it leaves everything open to interpretation. Who will be reviewing the flagged content? How do FB users challenge the removal of ‘objectionable’ content? If it’s the same process they have now, it’s nonexistent. They have ZERO direct customer service. What about private chat groups? Will they be monitored?