Facebook is not your friend

I seem to have a history of being blocked and chased off of sites, but I am also rather hard to silence, aren’t I?

A week ago, Rachel was up here in Toronto visiting our daughter, and while she was here I posted the following photo to my facebook wall, which had become a sort of “work safe” ModBlog where I shared the many interesting things that my friends there posted. As you know if you use Facebook, nearly every post or picture or message has a little button that says something like “Report This Photo”. What you may not know is that it only takes a single person clicking it to get your account banned from Facebook, and that there appears to be no human oversight or moderation to this process. Whether that means that it’s completely run by bots or it’s minimum-wage moderators mindlessly clicking “ok” all day long I have no way of knowing — all I know is that the process is broken. Anyway, here is the photo I posted while Rachel was here, the first one that got me in trouble, earning a one day ban for violating “community standards”:


Admittedly, it’s a “boobie” picture, so I’m not terribly surprised that some prude reported it. However, I censored the nipples, and in any case, on Facebook’s “community standards” page they explicitly state that they allow tasteful nudity and artistic nudity. Unforuntately Facebook provides no mechanism for disputing these bans, and even says “don’t bother asking us to lift a ban, because we never do even if it’s in error — just be patient”. There are no forms to contact them about this, so I spent some time reading news articles about similar bans — they’re quite common — and got the name of Andrew Noyes, a Facebook PR guy who’d dealt with this in the past, tracked him to his personal email address, and wrote him a letter asking him to help.

While I waited, I went out for an icecream with my daughter and Rachel and told them what had happened. Rachel went on a bit of a rant about how unfortunate it is that many modification artists are using Facebook as their primary home, because Facebook, to simplify what she said, “is not our friend”. Sure, they’re happy that we’re there posting our pictures and attracting eyeballs to generate advertising revenues for them, but don’t ever kid yourself into thinking they care about this community or will protect it in any way — let alone protecting larger civil rights like freedom of speech or privacy. They’ll do what’s good for their bank account, and that is a very different thing than what is good for the body modification community. Rachel told me that if I ever wanted to have a safe place to blog on the subject, that the doors of ModBlog were open to me. Since I still have a lot of hurt feelings and heartbreak about the way I stopped blogging here in the first place, I said thanks but no thanks, and anyway, blogging at Facebook, even though their platform sucks, is very easy and fast and makes it convenient to network with my friends, and since I’m just doing this just for fun these days I figured I’d stick with Facebook. This decision was solidified by getting an email from Andrew Noyes on my return saying the same throw-away line I’ve seen him use in the media — “It was an error and we apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused.”

But in any case the one-day ban was off six hours later and I figured it was the end of my troubles and continued posting as normal. Everything seemed fine, until I posted the following image, along with a note about health and safety:


Now, before I continue telling my Facebook story, I’d like to put this picture into context, because there is more to it than meets the eye. Yes, of course all things being equal suspension should be treated with the same controls on sterility, safety, and cross-contamination as body piercing is. That goes without saying, and I can’t imagine there isn’t a person who disagrees. However, to speak by analogy, just because you agree that all things being equal people should wear condoms when having sex, it does not follow that you believe long-term partners must wear condoms, or that condoms are required in erotic art (aka pornography). If the photos on the “insane” half of the photo are in an artistic context between fluid-sharing partners, or people who are otherwise “safe” to contaminate each other’s blood, then the lack of gloves carries with it less additional risks and becomes more of a political issue than a safety issue (and of course with the free flowing blood on the practitioners in the top-right photo, gloves alone would not be an adequate precaution). Of course one could say “but what if someone copies that”, but really, my stance has always been that it is the job of BME — and people in general — is to educate and provide all available information, not to censor themselves for fear that people will blindly emulate without understanding the risks.

I’ve been talking to the performers in the bottom right photo, and I should mention first that they are artists, and not a suspension team — they do not suspend others. Everyone involved was tested for disease, and in any case, two of them are married partners. This was an art performance. It was not a suspension event. So the above montage at least in part compares apples and oranges — and while no one disagrees with the general message, it does it using the the wrong illustration, and thereby unfairly hurts people who are not part of the problem. Let me finish off this diversion by sharing with you the beautiful video of the performance so you can understand it in context, and perhaps take away the lesson that if you’re going to create an image like this (and there are many floating about), you should be very sure about the shots you include:

Human Installation III “Sacrifice” Performance art by Kyrahm from KYRAHM on Vimeo.

But in any case, I went out to a movie (myself watching Total Recall, and my daughter watching Wimpy Kid) and when I came back, I found that I was blocked from Facebook for this post “violating their community standards”, this time for three days. I have written to Andrew Noyes again, but unfortunately this time he has not — at least yet — stepped up to help. Now, I don’t believe Facebook specifically has it in for me, or for body modification. I think they simply couldn’t care less about us one way or the other, leaving us at the mercy of automated systems that boot us off or slap us with petty punishments the second some complains. I have been speaking out against rebloggers who simply repost pictures they steal from BME as their own, and I have been speaking out against tattoo blogs that objectify women needlessly — for all I know one of them is laughing all the way to the bank, having found an easy way to manipulate the system. Well, they’ve managed to push to somewhere that they can’t censor me. For now, I’m taking my writing to hear on ModBlog. Tattoo artists and piercers beware — all it takes is your competition making a few mouse clicks, and you’ll go through the same hell. Make sure you have a backup plan like BME, because, to again state the obvious, Facebook is not your friend.

I don’t have a good picture to go along with it, but the entry that I was about to post (but couldn’t) when I got back from the movie was about Total Recall… so let me share a picture of one of the iconic characters that is in both the original and the very different remake, and a hilariously awesome tattoo based on the final scene from the original.


The art direction and concept work in the movie is where it really shines, and that includes a few scenes of “body modification of the future” (which reminded me of Warren Ellis‘s superb future-mods comic “MEK”). In addition to three-boobed women, as the main character runs through a very Bladerunner-esque dystopian city, we see a tattoo artist working on a backpiece, as the whole thing flickers like electroluminescent wiring. In addition, some people have phones implanted in their hands (which from the surprise some street urchins show, is not yet commonplace among the general public) — we even get to see Quaid cutting it out of himself, pulling it out quite realistically as an implant would be, as it’s being used to track him. Anyway, it’s mostly an action movie and not a lot more, but there were many little details like that I think people here would appreciate.

So yeah… Screw blogging on Facebook. Even if they “fix this”, at this point I have no reason to believe it won’t happen again and again, eventually causing me to lose everything I’ve worked on. So I’m going to put my posts here instead. I’m not sure if I’ll start right away full-force or ease into it, but I can’t pour my efforts into posts that might mysteriously disappear because of some inaccessible behind-the-scenes process at a megacorporation. Finally, I want to say that I’m not here to “take over” ModBlog and I look forward to working with the others posting here and I appreciate having been offered a safe home to share my opinions on body modification, and a place to highlight the things I see and enjoy. Stay tuned I suppose?

P.S. I have kept copies of everything I have posted to Facebook, so since it’s effectively lost in their useless unsearchable interface, if there’s an interest, I may repost some of the “best of” material here so that it is properly archived for the body modification community to enjoy.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

13 thoughts on “Facebook is not your friend

  1. welcome back! and good thing there’s a variety of choices to go around these days !

  2. I’d like to see the facebook stuff on here. Unfortunately, I missed a lot of what you were posting because of quantity + fb’s weird algorithms!

  3. Thanks for your words!Sometimes it’s easier point the finger and say”bad”than try to understand what’s the real meaning of a picture/performance.!
    Best regards
    Ashe(on of the persons involved in the insane picture)

  4. Thank you Shannon…we are full of gratefull for what you say and did..and also so sorry for what fb do for defending us…. FLASH AND BLOOD for you brother, your a big big big person. TOTAL RESPECT!!

  5. I haven’t as yet been banned for posting a lot of Maori-related material re: racism in New Zealand, nor have I been banned for writing venmously anti-religious stuff around the Marriage Equality Bill which is currently going in front of Parliament here in New Zealand (my stance is the only reason, and its not sound reasoning, to oppose gay marriage is on religious grounds, and the Church should have ZERO say on legislation).

    I’m glad to see Shannon have a place on Modblog, which is something he created and maintained through his own blood, sweat, and tears. But I would also like to know that Shannon won’t just be tossed aside or censored like on Facebook is anyone at BME has the urge to do so. Because BME could do that.

  6. Welcome back :)

    I’ve been telling people on facebook that we (the modified) will end up scurrying around like rats in the darkened corners of facebook for ages. Its putting us in the same category as filth, when we don’t belong there :(

  7. Facebook, in my opinion, is the bane of human existence. It brings out the worst in people, and gives a platform for people to express all of their unfounded prejudices and bigoted opinions. It surprises me little that any of its closed-minded users wouldn’t hesitate to report things from the modification world. People do nothing but fight on every single fan page, so why wouldn’t they love a chance to report on the “freaks” that dare post something on Facebook. Also, you’re right, Shannon, Facebook cares nothing for freedom of speech. If they did, they would at least have some means of reviewing the content being reported. Facebook went downhill the second they expanded it from just college students to the outside world (i.e. the parents, grandparents, etc.) and then all the kiddies. As soon as the kids get on there, all of a sudden, everything has to be rated G. Everyone’s all “Oh my gosh, don’t say that, there’s kids on here.” It’s annoying. Anyways, I digress. Main point being, Facebook sucks.

  8. Wow, it’s great to have you back Shannon! I generally pop in once a month to check out what’s been happening at the forefront of body mod. I must say I had missed your well thought out articles and well considered topic selection.
    Great to see everyone’s let bygones be bygones.
    I wonder if this blog will return to being as popular as it was per your departure?

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