Facebook released a new set of community guidelines this week centered around ‘sexual solicitation’. The guidelines specifically harm LGBTI users, by disallowing them from discussing their identities.
In justifying the new community guidelines, Facebook wrote in its policy rationale that the discussion of drawing ‘attention to sexual violence and exploitation’ is important, but it wants to ‘draw the line’ at content encouraging or coordinating ‘sexual encounters between adults’.
The community guidelines then go on to detail what kind of content users are no longer allowed to post.
Some of this banned content includes mentioning ‘sexual preference/sexual partner preference’ and ‘commonly sexualised areas of the body such as the breasts, groin or buttocks’.
This update from Facebook comes on the heels of Tumblr’s decision to remove all of its adult content.
Further, these standards apply to all of the companies Facebook owns, including Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
What people are saying
People are upset at social media companies’ decision to start censoring such content for numerous reasons. While drawing a hard line on exploitative content is good, blanket censoring harms marginalized groups like LGBTI people.
Users are taking to Twitter and elsewhere to express their discontent. Making rules like these both continue to take away spaces for LGBTI users, as well as equate LGBTI identities with harmful sexual content.
Facebook’s updated community standards are fucking WILD! Stating your sexual orientation is now literally against the rules and is seen as solicitation.
Also butts are not ok anymore either.
Fuck this so much. Everything about it. pic.twitter.com/VMN1Drq9mN
— Jennifer Scheurle (@Gaohmee) December 5, 2018
— Laurie Voss (@seldo) December 5, 2018
First Tumblr bans NSFW imagery, now Facebook bans NSFW *words*!! pic.twitter.com/ozb0nwgEUr
— Vivian (@suchnerve) December 5, 2018
GSN has reached out to Facebook for comment.
Update 6 December, 4:23 pm PST: Facebook responded to GSN’s inquiry for comment.
A spokesperson stated: ‘People are definitely not restricted from stating their sexual preference.’
They also revealed Facebook’s policy team has meetings every few weeks to ‘discuss potential changes to our policies based on new research or data’.
This change came from reviewers’ complaints that the company’s sexual exploitation policy did not adequately cover or differentiate between exploitation and solicitation.
Facebook, however, did not answer GSN’s questions about why stating one’s sexual preference is on the list of things not to post on the solicitation policy page, or what the link is between sexual identity and solicitation.