The “breach of community standards” warning I also received on my FB page was unacceptable, but surely a mistake?
However, with subsequent protests by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) media freedom watchdog and the Sydney office of the Asia-Pacific branch of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s largest journalist organisation with more than 600,000 members in 187 countries, falling on deaf ears, I started wondering about the political implications of this censorship.
The removed item was purportedly because of “nudity” in a photograph published by IFJ of a protest in the West Papuan capital Jayapura in August last year during the Papuan Uprising against Indonesian racism and oppression that began in Surabaya, Java.
The Facebook “warning” over the blocked West Papua news item. Photo: PMC Screenshot
The two protesters in the front of the march were partially naked except for the Papuan koteka (penis gourds), as traditionally worn by males in the highlands.
As I wrote at the time when communicating with RSF:
“Anybody with common sense would see that the photograph in question was not ’nudity’ in the community standards sense of Facebook’s guidelines. This was a media freedom item and the news picture shows a student protest against racism in Jayapura on August 19, 2019.
“Two apparently naked men are wearing traditional koteka (penis gourds) as normally worn in the Papuan highlands. It is a strong cultural protest against Indonesian repression and crackdowns on media. Clearly the Facebook algorithms are arbitrary and lacking in cultural balance.
“Also, there is no proper process to challenge or appeal against such arbitrary rulings.”
Using the flawed FB online system to file a challenge in this arbitrary ruling three times on August 7, I ended up with a reply that said: ‘We have fewer reviewers [to consider the appeal] available right now because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’.”
The cover of the July edition of Pacific Journalism Review.
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