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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.