OOPS, THEY DID IT AGAIN:Facebook Sorry for Censoring Kiss

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com June 27 2011 12:25 PM ET

In the latest of a recurring problem for the company,
Facebook is apologizing for censoring a photo illustration of two men kissing
that commemorated passage of the marriage equality bill in New York and that
was posted by The Advocate on Friday.

The image
shows two sailors — both men — kissing in Times Square under the words
“VICTORY IN NEW YORK.” It obviously pays homage to the iconic V-J Day in Times
Square
photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, whose Life magazine photo has repeatedly been imitated in
movies and broader culture during moments of celebration.

For example, these particular sailors are actually drawn
from a memorable Diesel advertisement shot in 1994 by famed gay photographer
David LaChapelle.

Hundreds of people had “liked” the image before it was taken
down. In a boilerplate message sent to users who had shared the image on their
own walls, Facebook cited its indecency policies in general as reason for
censorship. The policy bans “content that is pornographic or contains nudity,
or is inappropriately sexual.”

It also bans “attacks on an individual or a group of people”
and “depictions of self harm, excessive violence or drug use,” although neither
of those could be at play in the initial decision to remove the image.

“Upon investigation, we concluded the photo does not violate
our guidelines and was removed in error,” said Andrew Noyes, Facebook’s manager
for public policy communications. “We apologize for the inconvenience."

This isn’t the first time Facebook has removed a photo of
two men kissing for being indecent. In a high-profile mistake in April, the
company apologized
for removing a photo posted in protest of a London pub’s decision to eject a
same-sex couple for kissing. The photo was helping promote a “kiss-in.”

And The Advocate
frequently receives word from readers who say a photo of a couple was removed
and then reinstated by Facebook after complaints came in. The company uses a mix of
human and computer moderators.

The ubiquitous social networking site has made several
outward signs of its support for gay couples, including adding “domestic
partnership” in February to its list of relationship statuses. Its employees posted an It Gets Better
video in October, and some marched in this weekend’s parade during San
Francisco Pride.