Kenneth in the 212 put up a message this past week from an author whose fan page for the book Band Fags was taken down by Facebook. They didn't give a reason why, though, and since a search for the word "fags" turns up 41 results and "faggot" turns up 80 pages, it seems rather arbitrary to pull one page for using the word "fags" and not all the others.
Back in January Canadian trans man Dominic Scaia's account was deleted after he put up a shirtless pic on Facebook. Since Facebook doesn't have a problem with other guys putting up shirtless pics, he didn't think it'd be a problem, but his account was disabled, then reenabled, then the pics were taken off, then put back on, then he was banned again, and now he's back again.
Late last year, Bil posted about an ad for a lesbian film that was rejected by Facebook.
What if the page for the film Ticked Off Trannies with Knives as well as the page to protest the film were removed because they both use the same slur in the title? There's context for all this, and it seems like Facebook's overcautious policy is missing the point.
Or is it?
I understand that Facebook is a private company and they're free to post whatever content they want, blah blah blah.
But the reason there's such a need for a website like Facebook is due in no small part to the destruction of public spaces that aren't owned by private organizations or plastered with advertising in the real world over the last half century. There is a real human need for public space, places for people to meet and connect and hang out that aren't in their homes, but in many parts of the country those spaces are in short supply.
Facebook is the sort of thing that can easily build a monopoly on its market, since the value of a social networking site is directly linked to the number of people who are already on it. Sure, if you don't like it, go elsewhere, but if you're all alone on another site, then that defeats the purpose of going elsewhere.
This seems to be directed by our need, now, for these spaces to be as clean, that we're living in an era where people can't stand to run into an idea, a word, a page, a photo that they don't agree with. People have their quirks, and when that gets multiplied out to the scale on which Facebook is operating, those quirks can be tough for them to navigate, much less set up a set of rules and then delegate to someone with little investment in Facebook or people's individual projects on Facebook.
In other words, this has little to do with Facebook and a whole lot to do with us. Why can't we create some sort of public alternative to Facebook? Why is it that we need that sort of public, online space so much for so many diverse purposes and yet delegate the control of that space, and therefore control over ourselves through our need for that space, to a private entity that's motivated more by not wanting to piss a single person off than it is by encouraging people to express themselves?
LGBTQ people will always be at a disadvantage when folks want to clean up a certain space, because we've been historically seen as dirty, disordered, and dangerous. If the powers that be want to make a space safer or cleaner or nicer without even responding to criticism, we're going to be the first ones to get scrubbed away.