Facebook has often been criticized for what some consider to be confusing community standards, guidelines, and the manner in which these standards are applied. Video depictions of breastfeeding were banned, a policy Facebook has since reversed, while videos depicting bullying and harassment remain an ongoing and painful problem.

Questions were raised yet again on Friday, January 26, when Facebook removed the animated short created for Ben Passmore’s award winning comic, Your Black Friend for violating Facebook’s Community Standards.

Image via Silver Sprocket

According to a tweet from the independent comic book publisher Silver Sprocket, it was removed after complaints from “Alt-Right bros”:

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Passmore’s comic, and the animated short, raise important question about how to confront white privilege and racism. Passmore has won an Ignatz Award and was nominated for an Eisner Award.

The video was restored on Facebook on January 29th, though it is not clear what brought about its restoration.

The Beat reached out to Facebook for comment regarding the removal of the Silver Sprocket’s video. In a response, a Facebook spokesperson said the animated film was taken down in error. The spokesperson noted that the content review team is responsible for reviewing millions of reports each week and sometimes makes mistakes when it comes to distinguishing between hate speech and social commentary that seeks to condemn hate speech.

The spokesperson says people who feel that content violates Facebook’s Community Standards are able to report pages, profiles, individual comments or posts. While hate speech is not allowed on the Facebook platform, social commentary about hate speech or related topics are. For privacy reasons, the spokesperson says, content reviewers may not have access to the full page or profile they are reviewing, which can sometimes lead to errors. As soon as Facebook becomes aware of possible errors, they investigate and restore content when and where warranted. The spokesperson added that they understand how painful these mistakes are to the community.

In an effort to learn from and prevent future errors, the Facebook spokesperson said they conduct regular audits regarding the quality and accuracy of reviewer decisions in an effort to improve their processes. One of those processes includes more precise distinction for identifying hate speech and condemnation of hate speech.

The animated short was posted by Silver Sprocket on January 22, 2018. The short has received positive attention on Youtube and Facebook and garnered more than 130,000 views.

You can view the short below:

The animation was produced by Silver Sprocket and Doggo Studios to promote Passmore’s upcoming hardcover collection, Your Black Friend and Other Strangers, collecting 120 pages of comics from VICE, The Nib, and various other publications to be released in March of 2018. The three-minute short calls attention to “woke” white folks who refuse to call out their peers racism. It shines a necessary light on white silence as racism.

Shortly after the video was taken down, Silver Sprocket tweeted the following:

On Ben Passmore’s Twitter, he seemed less surprised and more baffled by the inconsistency with which Facebook removes content for violating community standards, which often appear to silence minority and marginalized voices.

No social media platform is immune to these kinds of problems, YouTube, Twitch and Twitter have all had extremely high profile incidents regarding violations of community standards and how they respond to bullies. How these companies continue to make their platforms a safe space for users while promoting social commentary matters, and we look forward to seeing these policies change and develop to adequately respond to the needs of the community members.

To read more about how Facebook handle’s hate speech and their enforcement policies, you can find a post detailing their policies here.

3 COMMENTS

  1. “While hate speech is not allowed on the Facebook platform”….okay, I’m going to be giving that line the horse-laugh for a while.

  2. Facebook uses algorithms for this sort of thing, which is a really bad tool. Plenty of stuff gets correctly removed, but plenty also gets incorrectly removed, and plenty of things that should be removed just get left alone. It’s not because Facebook has some secret plot against black people or anything ridiculous like that. It’s because Facebook sucks.

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