The transman who was first kicked off Facebook for uploading a picture of himself without a shirt, and then had his account reinstated but was told not to upload the offending picture again, has been told he can upload the picture. Here's Facebook's statement:
"I went back to our team here to ensure that we were being consistent in our review, and upon further consideration, the team has concluded that the photos do not violate our standards for graphic imagery and can be allowed. While we strive to apply our policies as consistently as possible, with over 350 million users on Facebook there may be instances when we fail to do this and we do our best to rectify these situations as swiftly as possible. We encourage Mr Scaia to upload the photos again if he would like to make them viewable on his profile.
We continuously re-evaluate all of our policies to make sure that they remain relevant and useful, and our policies surrounding graphic imagery are no exception. These have continued to evolve as we've seen how potentially graphic content can be used to create awareness and educate users about a particular issue. Last year's protests in Iran - and even today's crisis in Haiti - are poignant examples of this."
A trans man's chest, post-top-surgery, is like Haiti after an earthquake that killed tens of thousands? The former is something that Dominic Scaia was proud of, the latter is a natural disaster people need to build an understanding of because it's a tragedy of immense proportions. Not quite the same thing.
But they say that they didn't pull the pic because it was a transgender man's chest, but because of post-surgical scarring*, which is apparently banned on Facebook:
"A photo of a shirtless transgendered man would not violate our policies, assuming there was no other content in the photo that violated our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities," a Facebook spokesperson told Xtra. "There are a number of reasons why photos might violate our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, including if they contain graphic content such as post-surgical imagery."
I don't know which reason is sillier: "transgender men are really women so they can't show their chest" or "post-surgical scarring is graphic content so Facebookers should be protected from it." Sure, they never said it was the former and left us to guess that that's what the problem was, and it could very well be the latter. If it is really about post-surgical scarring, though, I have to wonder where the issue is.
People have surgery. It leaves scars. Sometimes for a really long time. Sometimes they never go away. Not everyone has a blemish-free body, and that doesn't make them bad people or disgusting circus freaks. Get over it. It's part of life.
This is one of the reasons I'm always weary around censorship - the entire idea is to protect the unwashed masses from imagery and information that might harm them. In turn, we have to have faith in the benevolent people who preview questionable material to decide for us what opinion we should have on it because we're either too stupid or too morally deficient to make that decision ourselves.
I'm not a sheep. If I fall on a person's profile and it has material that I don't want to see, I click "back." I won't die or go crazy or become immoral if I accidentally see something I don't want to see. And post-surgical scarring, really, isn't a problem. A transman's chest isn't a problem.
I know, I know, they're a private organization and can put up what they want. Fine. But considering the central role they've taken in people's social lives, becoming the functional equivalent of an online town square, the fact that they can remove people and content for no reason at all with no appeal should be scary. Is there a way to create a public version of Facebook? Or is the internet itself that public forum, and people will just have to leave Facebook if they don't want to be subject to its rules, excluding them from a much larger audience and community than they would otherwise reach?
Anyway, it's good Scaia's back and that he's allowed to upload the non-pornographic pictures he wants to. Although it must be weird to have your chest compared to an natural disaster and a global tragedy.
*Update: Good point. Tobi points out in the comments that Facebook doesn't exactly talk about scars in their statement to Xtra, just "post-surgical imagery."