I’m 30 now, alright, so I can bust out a hackneyed saying quicker than I can say just about anything else. And here’s the one I’m saying right now – WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE WORLD!
I changed my Facebook profile picture yesterday to this:
It’s my 2-year-old daughter, dancing in her tiara.
This evening I couldn’t log into Facebook from my phone. I also had an email from Facebook saying I needed to log in from a PC so I could verify something. The email was alarmingly entitled “Facebook Warning” and written in dictatorial tones as follows:
I figured straightaway that it must be the photo above that had been pinged. I had to click on a link in the email to be redirected to my account. It opened up with the “offensive” picture, and another notice warning against uploading “nudity and/or pornographic content”. At the bottom, I had to check a box – like a recalcitrant child – that said, “I agree I won’t upload photos like this again!” That’s actually what it said. Apart from everything else about this situation that annoys me, that right there almost tops it. Don’t make me tick a box to get back into my own Facebook, but word it with contractions, cute punctuation, and vague insinuations instead of discrete terms.
So, how does it work? Has someone actually flagged my photo? We figure most likely it’s been picked up by a screening algorithm that measures bare flesh, and is then forwarded to a human for final confirmation that it is indeed an “offensive” image. Whoever that person is, they’ve clicked delete and now my photo is gone. I understand everything uploaded to Facebook is there forever etc. But if they deign something is offensive and delete it, where does it go? And yes, I understand anyone with access to my profile can save any image I put up there and distribute it or display it or use it for any nefarious purpose they wish. But what does Facebook do with these deleted items? Do they have a big digital repository somewhere of actual offensive and pornographic images that now contains a beautiful picture of my innocent daughter amongst its filth? Because that worries me more than anyone being able to use my images in the first place.
The stupid thing is I’d already censored the photo. It’s full-length, and although I don’t particularly have qualms about posting full-length nudes of my young kids online (they’re cute!), I know it’s not really a done thing any more. So I cropped it so it was only her top half before uploading it to Facebook. How is this cropped version offensive or worrying in any way (with the possible exception of the cheap plastic tiara)?
I applaud Facebook and anyone else taking measures to protect children from predators – of course. But I do wonder why they didn’t try to contact me first to verify that it was my child, and above board. After all when I log in to Facebook in overseas countries (when I’m travelling for work), I usually have to verify my account by identifying photos of my friends. So it’s obviously not that hard to test my credentials.
The other stupid thing is that I’ve posted full-length nudes of my kids before, including shots of them bare-bummed (look away if you don’t like porn) in the… (I can barely say it, it’s so coarse) BATH and, heaven forfend, the paddling pool. I don’t know why those photos weren’t removed.
I accept ownership of any photos I upload to Facebook; in fact it’s one of the conditions, knowing that at the point of hitting “upload” a stake in the property rights (of the copy, at least) becomes Facebook’s. But more importantly, I accept responsibility for protecting my children’s wellbeing and protection. With that in the front of my heart with every action I take in this life, Facebook, give me some credit for not uploading anything which poses a threat to them on my own profile. You are not my children’s guardians. My husband and I are. I don’t know what groups or which people inform your policies and constitute your staff; I certainly have no reason to trust you as paladins of my children’s safety any more than anyone else online.
Or, FUCK OFF.
Yes, I know there are people out there who could get this photo of Zadie dancing with her brother to Spoon and use it for sinister inspiration. I guess. I can’t really see it, and perhaps that’s the failure that Facebook is protecting me from. But if I have to worry about people seeing this photo of Zadie, I also have to worry about trying little t-shirts on her in shops, taking her to the swimming pool, and indeed just living here, since it’s so bloody hot she’s generally always in her undies.
And. Do they take down photos of little topless boys? Or are their nipples less sexual than a little girl’s? Does anyone know? It occurs to me that I’ve posted plenty of “topless” photos of Rufus that have gone unchallenged, but only back-view photos of Zadie without clothes up to now.
I’m JACKED OFF. I really liked that photo. I thought I could censor it further in Paint to obscure the clearly monstrous NIPPLES and SKIN BELOW HER BELLY BUTTON (I can only guess at what particularly was suggestive of pornography). But in the end I didn’t post the Paint-doctored version (though I am tempted, to see if it gets removed) because you know what? It actually does look sexualised and vulgar:
Well done, Zuckerberg. You’ve turned an adorable moment into something coarse and distasteful.