The photo that was banned almost a decade after it was posted - on the morning that Facebook suggested I re-post it as a "Memory"...the question is, WHY?
Is it the photo itself? The fact that I added some fresh text to the comment box of the suggested re-post? Or that the tightening noose of censorship along with the brain numbing narratives and algorithms (of those clearly seeking to deplete and detach Humanity from our natural existence on this planet) are taking over? That’s up to you to decide of course, I’m merely sharing a simple example for you to hopefully consider.
*For my dear fellow humans who are not on ‘social media’ (yes, I thankfully know quite a few!), a “Memory” on Facebook (FB) is a post (text/image/video) that a user published on their page/account at some point in the past (sharing it with FB friends, or publicly for all to see), that is then suggested by FB as post to re-share via the“notifications” it generates…often triggering the “I can’t believe it’s been five years since I…” type of stuff you see on the platform. I’m sure you get the idea.
Here’s what happened….
FIRST, A LITTLE BIT OF BACKGROUND:
On September 7, 2015, I travelled to Namibia where I met with a San community (believed to be the earliest hunter-gatherer culture in Southern Africa) to learn about their present-day (again, 2015) reality after the government banned them from hunting…their ancestral, natural, self-sustaining and vital method of survival.
After spending the day speaking with its members and learning about their traditional way of life, which included fascinating explanations (significance of movement, wind and sound) and a reenactment of a hunt with handmade bows and arrows, I knelt down to capture a little more b-roll to help me amplify their story - that of a wise people and an ancient culture severely threatened with extinction by external/domineering powers.
And, similarly to other such experiences as a lone documentarian travelling to remote regions around the globe, I was quickly surrounded by curious children who wanted to get a closer look at my camera.
As I showed them what I was recording on the little flip screen of my camcorder, a bystander picked up my still camera and began snapping a few photos of our lovely encounter.
Yes, my independent work often piqued the interest of youngsters - many, many times before (here are aa few examples)…
I very much cherished my meeting with these youngsters (as I do with everyone I meet throughout my solo expeditions and travels) and shared it with those who were following my life’s work and journey. Which, according to the FB “Memory” that popped up in my page’s notifications this morning (25.01.23), was posted about a year later (?) - on January 25, 2016.
(“DOP” for those who may not know, stands for “Director of Photography.”)
Here’s the full photo which has now mysteriously vanished from my collection of shared images and albums on FB (fortunately, I have backups of my material):
I’m not very active on FB or other ‘social media’ platforms anymore (for many, many reasons), but when this “Memory” popped up, it reminded me of this wonderful day and moment. So I chose to re-share it, adding a little more text to provide some additional context. But when I posted it publicly, this is what appeared:
“…because the owner only shared it with a small group of people, changed who can see it or it’s been deleted” FB declared on my page.
I had set this post (and its attached image) to ‘public’ so I ask you this FB…who exactly is the owner making these decisions that you speak of? Because it certainly wasn’t me.
I then received numerous warnings about the photo being of a forbidden “sexual” nature, containing “nudity” that goes against the platform’s “Community Standards,” and that my account could be restricted and/or deleted.
Then the image mysteriously vanished - no longer to be found in any of my FB photo albums.
After nearly a decade of this particular image existing on FB as one of my deeply cherished memories, the platform declared my photo “sexual” and banished it into the abyss after itself suggesting that I re-post it. I became nauseous…
The thought that this image could be interpreted in a sexual manner horrifies me to the depths of my core on so many levels!!! And if anyone out there does, I beg you to pause, to please ask yourself how and why you came to think in this way, and to seek help if you need to.
First, please allow me to acknowledge that yes:
there are children in the picture now banned by FB,
they are wearing little clothing (especially evident to those living in “progressive” societies who perhaps have little understanding of the human cultures that exist beyond the peripheries of their own urban settings),
and yes - you do, therefore, see the flesh of their bodies (not genitals).
Now allow me please to next explain something very simple…
The piece of San clothing you see on the inquisitive boys in the photo that I posted on FB 7 years ago, is what you would probably best define as pants, shorts, or whatever it is that you choose to wear on the lower half of your body.
San clothing is made of animal hide (within an ancient culture where “no part of an animal is ever wasted” I was told), with resilient and beautiful stitching, and adorned with natural fibres and handcrafted beads. San sandals, for example, can be worn on countless long-distance treks through Namibia’s harsh desert landscape for months, some for much more than a year, without requiring any fixing - or becoming unfashionable and disposable as is the case in much of today’s so-called “developed” societies.
(Sorry - I would normally post more of my photos here but cannot at the moment because the screen of my laptop just died and I’m not sure about the quality of this old external monitor. BUT I will share a few screenshots - captured while on my quest to better understand FB’s “Community Standards”…)
I don’t know (or particularly care) who/what’s considered cool these days, but I know that the owner of this FB account, and mother of these children which she shares via her public photos, is indeed quite famous and popular (these are allowed by FB - no problem!):
I won’t even bother addressing the nature of her personal photos (do what you will KK, we’re all adults here), and mean no offence at all, but the simple point that I am trying to make is, in fact, right here.
Look and think about what’s being celebrated, promoted and controlled by FB and other “social media” platforms today…while baring those that don’t quite fit into their mold.
So my final question to you FB (and others)…
Is this a more acceptable and accurate reflection of our world now FB?
7 years ago, the photo I shared was in no way considered harmful, inappropriate, offensive or “sexual.” Based on this present-day scenario, I can’t help but wonder what this situation says about people, but more so about the Meta “community” and algorithms that define the “standards” through which so many people (especially youth) interact, and construct their understanding of the world (now that they’re hooked)…
I ask you to please ask yourself…what has changed, and why?
You’re free to agree or disagree with my concerns of course, but I very much hope that you think for yourself, discuss and debate freely, peacefully and openly - ALWAYS…