Facebook has been accused of unfair censorship before, and now one of its latest controversial decisions has been perceived as a double standard that unfairly affects trans bodies.
Advertisements for lingerie brand Curvy Kate's latest body positivity campaign have been rejected by Facebook's community standards, which decided a trans woman in lingerie was too sexual to be promoted.
Curvy Kate's #TheNewSexy campaign promotes their new Scintilly underwear range with a boudoir-themed photoshoot of women who aren't always celebrated in the fashion industry.
In keeping with their commitment to using non-professional models, they featured models with visible disabilities, models of colour, and models of various shapes and sizes. A group photo of the models has Stephania Van Cluysen, a 21-year-old trans woman from Belgium, sitting front and centre.
The lingerie designer paid Facebook to promote three ads that depicted Van Cluysen with the group, as well as solo shots of her in lingerie. The ads circulated for a day before the social network flagged them on grounds of sexual, explicit content.
Curvy Kate received a standard warning notice, stating that their policy banned content that endorsed sexual acts, media, adult entertainment, or full nudity.
While their posts were not removed, Curvy Kate could no longer promote its content as ads on Facebook.
To reinstate their ads, Curvy Kate sent an appeal to Facebook. The brand argued that their ads had been wrongly flagged as sexual. Staff also put together a blog post detailing how competitors' ads, which also featured models in lingerie, had been approved. They pointed out how condom brand Durex was actively promote by Facebook ads, in spite of selling a sex-related product.
For a week, Facebook did not respond to Curvy Kate's appeal.
But following media backlash, Facebook finally apologized for banning the ads, sending Curvy Kate's head of PR, Hannah Isichei, the following message:
Facebook also gave the following statement to HuffPost U.K..: "Our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads. This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologize for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad."
Facebook's censorship patrol has caught flak before, mainly for its treatment of women and trans individuals.
A trans woman from Victoria, B.C. was censored by Facebook for posting topless photos. Courtney Demone made photos of her bare chest at various stages of her transition. Facebook initially ignored her photos, but later removed all of them following an inquiry from the Guardian.
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