Artist criticises Facebook’s community standards

Artist criticises Facebook’s community standards

City-based webcomic artist Rachita Taneja’s comic was recently taken down by Facebook for violating their norms

Rachita Taneja, artist at ‘Sanitary Panels’ and a human rights campaigner, share the incident with Metrolife.

The violation row started when she posted a comment on a friend’s non-public MeToo thread. “My personal account was blocked by Facebook for three days for commenting ‘men are trash’ on my friend’s MeToo post, which wasn’t public,” she elaborates.

She further adds, “I also noticed that many other women were blocked because of their posts and comments on the movement,” she adds. “I also get vulgar comments, but they rarely take action,” she says elaborating that many women have reported vulgar comments and threats, but the networking site fails to pay attention to that.

Following this, Rachita published a comic on Facebook and Instagram calling out the double standards on October 31. The social networking sites took it down on November 6 as it was against their norms. The artist shared the screenshot of the violation message she received on her social media handles, and her followers backed her up. After facing backlash and criticism from netizens, Facebook re-published the comic.

“They didn’t mention what standards I violated. They didn’t give me an option to appeal either,” she shares. 

“It is censorship. I criticised Facebook’s standards, and they took it down,” she adds.

It isn’t the first time where a person and their works were seen as going against community guidelines for expressing their thoughts. In 2015, Rupi Kaur’s post of a menstruating woman was removed by Instagram.

“I see a lot of sexism in their community standards,” Rachita declares. She also says that not much attention is paid to the casteist, racist and sexist comments posted online.

“I love my followers. I don’t get a lot of hate comments on my ‘Sanitary Panels’ account, but I do on my Twitter handle while calling out sexism or some sensitive issues,” she adds.

Rachita finds the site’s process of identifying what follows the community standards to be opaque. “Facebook’s algorithms favour the trolls, not us. I usually get criticised by trolls, but this time it is by Facebook itself,” she adds says.

She calls Facebook’s attempt to be counterproductive as the comic is shared more after re-posting it. She also claims the site to be censoring political topics and favouring people who fund them. “Facebook needs to be more transparent about their community standards. It is very selective and opaque. They should promise safety to women and minorities as many don’t feel safe online. How is it fair when women can’t express their thoughts on the burning topics?” questions Rachita.

Such acts do negate the purpose of it serving as a platform for people to voice their opinions. “Their strategy is flawed. Silencing people will only get them more negative attention,” signs off Rachita.

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