Content Moderation Case Studies: Facebook Suspends Account For Showing Topless Aboriginal Women (2016)
Summary: Facebook’s challenges of dealing with content moderation around “nudity” have been covered many times, but part of the reason the discussion comes up so often is that there are so many scenarios to consider that it is difficult to create policies that cover them all.In March of 2016, activist Celeste Liddle gave the keynote address at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre’s annual International Women’s Day address. The speech covered many aspects of the challenges facing aboriginal women in Australia, and mentions in passing at one point that Liddle’s Facebook account had been repeatedly suspended for posting images of topless aboriginal women that were shown in a trailer for a TV show.
“I don’t know if people remember, but last year the Indigenous comedy show 8MMM was released on ABC. I was very much looking forward to this show, particularly since it was based in Alice and therefore I knew quite a few people involved.
“Yet there was controversy because when 8MMM released a promotional trailer for the show prior to it going to air. This trailer was banned by Facebook because it featured topless desert women painted up for ceremony engaging in traditional dance.
“Facebook saw these topless women as “indecent” and in violation of their no nudity clause. On hearing this, I was outraged that Arrernte woman undertaking ceremony could ever be seen in this way so I posted the trailer up on my own page stating as such.
“What I didn’t count on was a group of narrow-minded little white men deciding to troll my page so each time I posted it, I not only got reported by them but I also got locked out and the video got removed.” — Celeste LiddleThe publication New Matilda published a transcript of the entire speech, which Liddle then linked to herself, leading her account to be suspended for 24 hours and New Matilda’s post being removed — highlighting the point that Liddle was making. As she told New Matilda in a follow up article about the removal and the suspension:
“My ban is because I’ve previously published images of nudity… I’m apparently a ‘repeat nudity poster offender’...
“I feel decidedly smug this morning, because everything I spoke about in my speech on this particular topic just seems to have been proven completely true...
“It’s actually a highly amusing outcome.” — Celeste LiddleFacebook’s notice to New Matilda claimed that it was restricted for posting “nudity” and said that the policy has an exception if the content is posted for “educational, humorous or satirical purposes,” but did not give New Matilda a way to argue that the usage in the article was “educational.”Many publications, starting with New Matilda, highlighted the contrast that the same day Liddle gave her speech (International Women’s Day), Esquire released a cover story about Kim Kardashian which featured an image of her naked but partially painted. Both images, then, involved topless women, with their skin partially painted. However, those posting the aboriginal women faced bans from Facebook, while the Kardashian image not only remained up, but went viral.Company Considerations:
- How can policies regarding nudity be written to take into account cultural and regional differences?
- Is there a way to adequately determine if nudity falls into one of the qualified exemptions, such as “educational” use?
- What would be an effective and scalable way to enable an appeals process that would allow users like Liddle to inform Facebook the nature of the content that resulted in her temporary suspension?
Resolution: After this story got some attention, Liddle launched a Change.org petition asking Facebook to recognize that aboriginal women “practicing culture are not offensive.”
- Questions about moderating “nudity” have been challenging for many websites. Are there reasonable and scalable policies that can be put in place that adequately take context into account?
- Many websites start out with a “no nudity” policy to avoid having to deal with adult material on their websites. What other factors should any website consider regarding why a more nuanced policy may make more sense?
Facebook's standards are a joke. They are blatantly racist, sexist and offensive. They show a complete lack of respect for the oldest continuing culture in the world. They also show that Facebook continually fails to address their own shortfalls in knowledge. Finally, they show that Facebook is more than willing to allow scurrilous bullying to continue rather than educate themselves. — Celeste LiddleNew Matilda requested comment from Facebook regarding the removal of the link to its story and were told that even if the sharing was for an “awareness campaign” Facebook still believed it should be removed because some audiences in Facebook’s “global community” would be “sensitive” to such content. The company also notes that in order to allow its content moderators to apply rules “uniformly” they sometimes need to be “more blunt than we would like.”
“We are aware that people sometimes share content containing nudity for reasons like awareness campaigns, artistic projects or cultural investigations. The reason we restrict the display of nudity is because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content – particularly because of cultural background or age. In order to treat people fairly and respond to reports quickly, it is essential that we have policies in place that our global teams can apply uniformly and easily when reviewing content. As a result, our policies can sometimes be more blunt than we would like, and restrict content shared for legitimate purposes. We encourage people to share Celeste Liddle’s speech on Facebook by simply removing the image before posting it.”Originally posted to the Trust & Safety Foundation website.
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posted at: 12:00am on 25-Nov-2021
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The Next 'Elder Scrolls' Game Will Be A PC, Xbox Exclusive
Almost exactly a year ago, Microsoft acquired Zenimax Media, a parent company for several video game publishers, including Bethesda. When that occurred, some sizable percentage of the gaming community asked the immediate and obvious question: does this mean games from Bethesda and others would be Microsoft exclusives? Xbox chief Phil Spencer was the first to weigh in on the question by giving a total non-answer.
“I don’t want to be flip about that,” he added. “This deal was not done to take games away from another player base like that. Nowhere in the documentation that we put together was: ‘How do we keep other players from playing these games?’ We want more people to be able to play games, not fewer people to be able to go play games. But I’ll also say in the model—I’m just answering directly the question that you had—when I think about where people are going to be playing and the number of devices that we had, and we have xCloud and PC and Game Pass and our console base, I don’t have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support in order to kind of make the deal work for us. Whatever that means.”Whatever that means, indeed. On the one hand, yes, Microsoft had clearly thought about delivering new games to Microsoft-centric platforms... but none of this was done to keep other players from playing these games. To anyone paying attention, that sounded like exclusives wouldn't be a thing. Todd Howard of Bethesda made many of the same noises.But then came Xbox CFO Tim Stuart, who's messaging was a bit less vague but a lot more concerning.
Speaking at the Jeffries Interactive Entertainment Virtual Conference last Friday (as transcribed by Seeking Alpha), Stuart said directly that "in the long run... we don't have intentions of just pulling all of Bethesda content out of Sony or Nintendo or otherwise. But what we want is we want that content, in the long run, to be either first or better or best or pick your differentiated experience, on our platforms.""That's not a point about being exclusive," Stuart continued. "That's not a point about... adjusting timing or content or road map. But if you think about something like Game Pass, if it shows up best in Game Pass, that's what we want to see, and we want to drive our Game Pass subscriber base through that Bethesda pipeline."Still vague, but less so. So, no Bethesda exclusives, but perhaps timed exclusives, timed releases, or content differences on Microsoft platforms. Maybe. Kinda? It's all very confusing.Except no it isn't and it turns out everyone was simply lying. Because Elder Scrolls VI, a Bethesda title, was just announced as a PC and Xbox exclusive after all. And it's Phil Spencer who is back to drop that bad news.
This week, Microsoft put probably the final nail in that conversational coffin, with Xbox chief Phil Spencer confirming in an interview with British GQ magazine that the upcoming Elder Scrolls VI will be available only on Xbox consoles and the PC.In a quote that doesn't seem likely to soothe many PlayStation owners, Spencer said the exclusivity is "not about punishing any other platform, like I fundamentally believe all of the platforms can continue to grow." Instead, Spencer was focused on "be[ing] able to bring the full complete package of what we have" with the company's games, meaning integration with Xbox Live, Game Pass, Xbox Cloud Gaming, etc. "And that would be true when I think about Elder Scrolls VI," he added. "That would be true when I think about any of our franchises."Now that clears multiple things up. First and foremost, that Microsoft and/or Bethesda simply lied to the public after the acquisition. And, secondly, that in fact at least some Bethesda titles will in fact be Microsoft exclusives! It's hard to know for sure, but all those previous statements sure read like cowardice to me. And I will damned well say that Tim Stuart should be very pissed off at how this all makes him specifically look. "We're not looking to pull Bethesda games out of Sony or Nintendo" some how morphed into the exact opposite.And so it goes. We have a major gaming hardware manufacturer now buying up a game studio that released its most famous titles on the Sony PlayStation in a way that sure looks like it is purposefully trying to pull those PlayStation owners over into buying Microsoft hardware. I sure hope this was all worth it to those that made money from the acquisition at Bethesda, because this isn't going to be good for that studio's reputation with its most dedicated fans.
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posted at: 12:00am on 25-Nov-2021
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