General Offence vs Personal Offence

By | 2011/04/18

Last week in the UK, two gay men got ejected from a pub for sharing a kiss. As a result of that, a Facebook group was setup to organise a “kiss in” protest at the pub. However, Facebook appears to have deleted that group, and a photo that was posted relating to it, as being offensive.

As reported in the above link from Dangerous Minds, Facebook advised:

Content that you shared on Facebook has been removed because it violated Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Shares that contain nudity, or any kind of graphic or sexually suggestive content, are not permitted on Facebook.

Yet, plenty of my heterosexual friends have posted pictures say, from their weddings, where they happen to be sharing kisses, etc. That’s OK, apparently – it’s just when it’s two men that there’s a problem.

As a screw you to Facebook, I’ve changed my profile photo to one of my partner and I kissing. There was no sex, we were fully dressed, and if they remove it I’ll be rather annoyed.

Facebook is struggling to understand the difference between something being generally offensive, and something causing personal offence. If something is personally offensive, it means that one or a few individuals found it distasteful. That would be like where say, someone posts a picture of a particularly savage cut they just got. I find that distasteful. When they do, I don’t complain to Facebook that it’s offensive, I just hide the post and move on.

If something is generally offensive, it means that society as a whole views it as unpleasant and distasteful. Like say, pictures of bestiality, or other sick rubbish like that.

Facebook has failed to understand the difference between personal and general offence, and in doing so, has created general offence by responding to someone’s expression of personal offence.

Facebook needs to grow up, pull the bug out of its butt, and realise that same sex couples are allowed to kiss. Yet it’s this bigotry that shows how far we still have to come. Kissing in public, holding hands in public, touching each other’s shoulders or giving a hug in public – all of these things heterosexual couples take for granted, yet if we do it ourselves, we get branded offensive.

You know what I find offensive?

Double standards.

2 thoughts on “General Offence vs Personal Offence

  1. Judy Kendall

    I totally agree – I’ve lost count of the number of wedding pics of friends I’ve seen on Facebook where the happy couple are sharing a kiss and can’t see the difference between that and any other couple kissing – same sex or not. I find what Facebook determine as ‘offensive’ to be rather strange too – a year or so ago Facebook determined any mother depicted breastfeeding her baby to be ‘offensive’. As a result a group was started in protest – now with in excess of 7 000 images. Seems it’s also ok to show people eating on Facebook, so long as they’re older than 6 months?!

  2. Christopher Banks

    There appears to be a weird inconsistency with their ads as well. I ran an ad to promote our Auckland Gay Film Night screening of The Adonis Factor documentary using the cover image from the DVD: (see muscly guy on left)

    The ad was approved, but a couple of days later when I made some changes to the copy to make it tighter, the ad was disapproved because “the image was inappropriate”.

    This is not the first time I’ve had this happen with ads, I’ve had the ping-pong approved/disapproved thing happen when trying to advertise a DVD for my film Teddy which featured two men cuddling – cuddling! – in bed with a teddy bear, under the sheets with nothing visible other than their arms.

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