All The Fun Of Facebook Bans And Realnaming + Other Censorship

If you’re wondering why my Louise Lush Facebook profile has been quiet lately it’s because I’m serving a seven day ban, in addition to being Realnamed last Thursday. I was also given a 3 day ban a couple of days prior.

The bans are for posting links to my Cake and Cunnilingus Day site. I can’t prove it but it seems probable that the asshats who stole my idea and design are probably the ones who reported me.

Interestingly, the first ban occurred just seconds after I’d taken this screenshot:

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So I was laughing that Facebook had somehow found the most explicit image on that whole site and thought it might make a good ad. All the links I’d posted to Cake and Cunnilingus Day were decidedly tame; I made sure the accompanying image to the link was either cake or something innocuous. Still, down came the ban hammer.

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This screenshot is from the second banning. What’s a bit confusing is that the original 3 day ban seemed to be for the same link… although I can’t remember if I posted it twice on my Louise Lush timeline or if it was for posting on the Cake and Cunnilingus Day page that I made.

In any case, I was banned for posting a link. There is nothing in the subsequent explanation of the ban that says you can’t post *links* to Facebook. I went and had a look at their community standards page and couldn’t find any mention of prohibited links.

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I assume “restrictions on the display of both nudity and sexual activity also apply to digitally created content” refers to memes, though I can’t really be sure what “digitally created content” actually means. As for “descriptions of sexual acts that go into vivid detail”… well, perhaps “a holiday combining oral sex on women with cakes and desserts” must have seemed incredibly rude to the $1-a-day third-word-country Facebook employee that reviewed the content.

It’s worth pointing out the “educational, humorous or satirical purposes” clause. I would argue that Cake and Cunnilingus Day is both educational and humorous. But how do you prove this to someone who may find the very idea of cunnilingus to be “vivid detail”?

And also, let’s take a moment to ponder society’s ongoing insistence that depictions of sex are OK if they’re educational, or humorous, or satirical, or violent (Baise Moi) or depressing or sexist but they absolutely must never ever be just for pleasure or arousal. Why does this nonsense persist?

In addition to the 7 day ban, I was also Realnamed.

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When you are banned, you can see what others are posting, you just can’t post or edit the page yourself. Being Realnamed totally blocks you from using the site and you have absolutely no recourse to any help or support unless you hand over your ID with no real guarantee that your privacy or personal contact information is safe. A great deal has been written about how fucked up this is (the MyNameIs site is a fantastic resource for fighting this). Sex workers have had their pseudonyms forcefully changed to their real name and then were locked out of the account for days or weeks, leaving their personal details freely available to any stalker or rapist who happened to pass by

In this case, Facebook accepted the ID I sent them, so – for now – I have my account back. I’m still banned until tomorrow so I can’t go in and clean up any other links that may or may not be deemed unacceptable. Facebook is “keeping the cliff foggy” (thanks @nicholsong) when it comes to the boundaries of its censorship.

When I try to post, a popup appears that actually gives me some recourse to fight the ban. I wrote up a response but I’m now hesitating to send it. Here’s what I wrote:

I’ve been blocked for posting *links* to a site about oral sex which encourages a feminist approach to sex education. There were no nude images posted. There were no “descriptions of sexual acts that go into vivid detail” in the accompanying text (unless you consider the phrase “oral sex” or “cunnilingus” to be “vivid”). I made sure any of the images that accompanied the links were safe.
I am a filmmaker and writer whose primary subject matter is sexuality. I have always done my best to follow the guidelines and to keep what I post safe-for-work.
I can’t find any mention in the Facebook Community Standards pages that prohibit the posting of *links* to other sites.
Still, when the ban is over, I will go in and try to make changes. But perhaps Facebook would like to clarify whether it is OK to post links or not.
Also, I believe I have been targeted for banning by an individual or individuals who have previously made unauthorized use of my intellectual property on their Facebook page (I have screenshots) and who are trying to shut down a page I made because they have a page with the same name and are staking a claim to an idea that was originally mine.

I’m hesitating to send this because I don’t want Facebook looking at my account or pages any more than they already have. My profile and pages, though SFW, still deal with sex and porn and I have no idea whether some religious or prudish lackey will just bring down the permanent ban hammer and fuck everything I’ve built there.

This is the unfortunate thing that this Facebook ban has taught me. I rely on this bastard of a social network too much. I’ve always told myself that if I was realnamed I’d just abandon the profile and start again. Or hey, maybe I could just give up and stop wasting so much time on Facebook.

But I realized this week that I’m not so keen on burning it to the ground. I have a lot invested in my existing Louise Lush profile, not least the commercial page for Bright Desire. The main issue is that Facebook is still useful to me as a networking tool. Through it I have contact with so many of the people I’ve worked with over the years.

This includes academics like Dr. Clarissa Smith, Dr. David Ley, Professor Kath Albury, Dr. Anne Watson, Kevin Heffernan, Mirielle Miller-Young and Lynn Comella, people whose research into pornography is always fascinating and worth reading.

It includes the sex workers and porn performers I’ve worked with in the past. Keeping in contact on Facebook allows me to stay friends, to cheer them on in their new endeavours, to contact them for possible future work.

It includes the erotic fiction writers and content creators who I admire and who I’ve published in the past and hope to publish again.

It includes my fellow erotic film directors with whom I’ve collaborated and with whom I regularly discuss issues within the porn industry.

And it includes a wider network of sex-positive people, of queer and feminist communities, all of whom regularly post interesting articles and statements that make me think about feminism, about sex, about society. These people inform my work and my writing.

It’s disturbing that I’ve allowed this to happen really. I shouldn’t be so reliant on a fucked-up social behemoth for my professional connections. In the old days of porn we had message boards and ICQ and that worked great. And then Facebook and Twitter came in and the boards died and everyone moved over onto the new platforms. Except that we handed them the control. We let them impose their stupid censorship. And we allowed the possibility of pornocalypse to hang over us, ready to kill the network at any time.

It’s entirely possible that the Louise Lush profile is still doomed. If that happens, I will start again. I’ll pare down my friends list, be careful what I post and maybe try not to waste so much time there.

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By the way, I was thinking about writing up something about the way Facebook seems to be banning people for posting links. A friend of mine was banned for posting a link to The Onion, for fuck’s sake. And I’ve been seeing an increase in bans across the porn/sex worker/sex discussion community which has the feeling of a crackdown. Violet Blue was banned for posting links, then realnamed and has been unable to disable her account because she refuses to hand over ID.

I *was* going to post something but it all feels a bit pointless. Everyone knows Facebook sucks and has draconian censorship. I can’t really add much to the conversation beyond posting my own experience above.

Still, doing some searches this morning, I found an interesting tangent. There is a new social network called Tsu which actually wants to pay you for what you post on the network. And, as this Huffington Post article points out, Facebook won’t allow you to post a link to Tsu – it’s a “blocked link” because “our security systems deemed it to be unsafe”.

For about half a second I got excited about Tsu. Hey! Maybe I could move my sad online presence over there! But naturally I had to go and check the terms and conditions first. And there it is:

Nudity: Pornographic or sexually explicit content is not allowed on tsū. While we strive to respect the sharing of personal content, we do impose and enforce limitations on nudity. You should find the degree to which this content is allowed consistent with other platforms.

What a shock. And the wording is so broad you have no idea what this could ever mean. Interestingly, their second community guideline is this:

Graphic Content: tsū is a place where people exchange ideas and experiences. Sometimes these contain graphic language or imagery as a means of raising awareness and to condemn it. Graphic content that is shared for sadistic effect is not welcome on tsū. We ask that you be mindful of your audience when posting and warn potential viewers of offensive or graphic content.

Right. So, porn and nudity, no. There is no circumstance under which you could post that. But gore… sure! Tsu totally gets that you could have a context for gore, so long as you put a warning on it.

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In other censorship news, Vimeo have permanently set my account to “Mature” and all my videos are marked as containing nudity. I can’t change this. Doesn’t matter if I post an interview or a documentary… too bad.

In their FAQ, it now says:

Why should I rate all of my videos?

Though often essential to artistic expression, so-called “mature content” can be decidedly less essential for certain audiences, such as children, office workers with their computer speakers turned up too loud, and people who’d rather not encounter particular things. Ratings give your viewers a heads up about what to expect from your videos, helping them make informed decisions and helping you avoid negative comments and complaints.

Why do I have to specify the types of mature content my videos include?

In the future, Vimeo will use these designations to help viewers decide which types of mature content they want to see and which they’d like to filter out. Giving your content a detailed and accurate rating now puts you ahead of the curve, ensuring that your videos will appear in all relevant search results.

Firstly, it’s nice that Vimeo actually acknowledges that mature content has a right to exist (even if they can’t successfully define “sexual stimulation” or “pornography“).

Secondly, “in the future” is somewhat ominous. I mean, it will be fabulous if Vimeo can successfully offer adult content and create filters to create more nuanced platform for grown ups. But as Bacchus says, the Pornocalypse comes for us all. This could just mean that adding a mature rating to a video means it will be hidden in an unsearchable ghetto, just like all the erotica on Amazon and Blogger and Tumblr.

By the way, Tumblr is now serving me ads amid acres of pirated porn gifs. It’s a bit of a shock but somehow refreshing to see. If Tumblr can successfully monetize mainstream advertising with porn, why can’t other social media companies?

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