In the last week of December, Facebook not only removed a photo from the Have A Gay Day page, but slapped a 30-day ban on all of the page’s 106 administrators, claiming that the photo “violates community standards.”
After a wave of backlash for its actions, the company changed its mind on January 2; according to PinkNews, a Facebook spokesperson announced that the photo’s removal had been in error and as such had been restored. As for the page’s admins, it denied any had been banned.
An official post from the Have a Gay Day page reads, “I was sent this link and Facebook told Pink News that they didn’t block us from posting. I find that an interesting fact since I literally sat on my computer as my personal account was restored from its 30 day block from posting. ‘The Page’ and our ‘Personal Accounts’ are tied together. If my personal account is blocked and can’t post neither can the page. Nice play on wording though.”
A look at Facebook’s Community Standards doesn’t reveal any rules the photo clearly violates.
A member of the Facebook Policy team, Fred Wolens, told 429Magazine that “there are millions of groups on Facebook, and it simply wouldn’t be feasible to setup [sic]a pre-approval process for this type of content, that’s why we provide report links throughout the site so our users can let us know about content that potentially violates our policies.”
In practice, the policy often means that all it takes to get content taken down is enough users flagging it for being offensive—whether or not it violates any rules at all.
Speaking to Liberal America, the owner of the page, Michael Knote, pointed out, “HAGD reached 9.4 million people this week alone and our Admins do a very important job. What if someone who was feeling suicidal reached out to us and we had no one reach back?”