This is my first open letter and will probably be my last. Although I wish I could use this trend and shot in the dark as some kind of ploy for sex with a celebrity or sponsorships, I will use it to address why you chose to unpublish the LADYGUNN Magazine page for being “obscene.”
Here is a quick background about me, Facebook. I am a music, fashion, art and culture magazine called LADYGUNN. This magazine is independent and is made up of talented friends, artists and cool, creative people curating a publication that supports our vision. Since it’s inception in 2011, we have grown to become a respected magazine in the industry that went from wanting a voice to having a voice. All this work has been done out of coffee shops, bedrooms, drunken ideas in bars, fights over creativity, rivalries, break ups, makeups and anything you can think of that happens with young egocentric creatives who are given a little power.
Obviously, you know it’s a lot of work to start your own brand, and because we are independent, we don’t really have a budget for a PR firm to promote and spread the word about our amazing and beautiful project. So, we rely on social media to get our message out and communicate directly with our fans.
We are very grassroots to say the least. I can’t count the number of times I have said, “Like it on Facebook!” many a drunken night at the bar, and actually followed up by asking said stranger to take out their smartphone and like it, now, in front of me. My team and I were very proud of the number of likes we were accumulating and people genuinely liking what we are doing. We developed a well-crafted community that we were speaking to. Things were going great until 10/29, when we were notified that one of the pictures in our albums was obscene and needed to be taken down. It was a photo from one of our many fashion editorial albums that had been up for over a year.
We were told to clean up our account to prevent getting unpublished. Okay. I immediately took said offensive image down and removed any other image that even remotely resembled a boob or cleavage or anything you might find too sexual. I spent at least an hour going through our thousands of pictures from fashion shoots, concert coverage, images that we had archived with you and linked from our page, THOUSANDS of pictures, Facebook. Problem solved, right? The end? No. The next day, the SAME picture came up as flagged, a picture I had already erased, and then (to my complete and utter horror) you guys unpublished our page.
I was frantic. Not only was our page unpublished, my appeals and very coherent (okay, some of them were a little manic) emails were met unanswered and our request for an appeal DENIED. It was heartbreaking to me, to my team, and all of our (and my) hard work. I wondered if it was a computer glitch. Our page had pictures that we had only uploaded to Facebook. We had thousands of images, interviews, quotes, snippets and memories we shared with our fans and amongst ourselves and seeing the timeline of it all was so resourceful. Now it was all gone and for one reason. Tits.
It’s alarming the stance and aggression society has on the female form, women in media and the representation of the female body. If it’s a natural picture of a natural-looking girl, that is somehow more offensive than a dolled-up, oiled-up sex kitten that some 13-year-old wants to jack off to or some 6-year-old wearing makeup and a bathing suit. The page was taken down, because there was a picture of a topless female that I might add was a consensual participant of the shoot. These photos weren’t done in a lewd or degrading manner, rather we sought to glorify the human form. We celebrate this in all of our shoots, with both females and males, models and non-models. I would like to point out there was an album depicting male models in their swim trunks and underwear, drinking beer and eating pizza, and I’m sure you all, or the jerk who decided to report our page, hardly batted an eye. I have definitely witnessed much more degrading images of nudity on some of my “friends'” personal pages, who are still up and running as far as I can tell.
If you think breasts are offensive, Facebook, I have to tell you that I would much rather look at a woman without a top on than a video or someone getting beheaded or a page dedicated to rape, all which could be found Facebook before there was a riot practically to remove these things. That is not to mention the countless amount of misogyny, racism, and harassment that goes through all of your networks. Though I condemn them, I also accept we are entitled to share and promote data within our social network communities. That is what makes it a social network.
The problem comes in when Big Brother swoops in to play the role of “God” and decides what is obscene and what is allowed to be accessed by the billions of people that use their site, meanwhile leaving out tons of unpoliced “offensive” media up for display.
When Mark Z addressed investors a couple of weeks ago, he said a major goal of Facebook was “understanding the world.” The first step then, Mark, might be to get a decent customer service team in place, so we aren’t talking to some faceless computer who is making decisions about our product. You also said you wanted for people to “easily ask any question to Facebook and get it answered.” So can you please answer my question: Why was my page unpublished even after I took down any pictures you guys deemed inappropriate for your site? And why was my appeal denied? Why are obvious fashion pictures deemed more offensive than violence and horrifying images to humans and animals?
Here is where I should step in and play devil’s advocate myself. Yes, I shouldn’t have pushed the boundaries, computer glitch or not, and abided by the rules of Facebook and examined and respected all of its privacy policies, if I wanted to be remain a part of the site. I will tell you what I don’t think is offensive or “obscene”: a page dedicated to representing a budding independent magazine focused on youth culture, music, and art such as the one you took down recently. We still want to use your website. We appreciate the forum to promote our magazine and will continue to do so (much more carefully).
On that note, I still will abide by your hypocritical puritan values (I have to) and use Facebook for exactly what it is used for: looking up exes, frenemies, people I went to high school with, my boyfriends’ exes, posting the occasional beheading video and of course spreading the good word of LADYGUNN.