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Brazil: Facebook Censors Photos of the ‘SlutWalk’

Not long after the mass publication of photos of the SlutWalk which took place in several Brazilian cities over the weekend of 26th-27th May, numerous complaints have emerged about the photos of the women whose bare breasts were on show in protest against male chauvinism. These images have since been deleted by Facebook for “violating the declaration of rights and responsibilities” as outlined by the online service.

Some cases gained more attention than others; in particular, that of the activist Luka Franca in São Paulo, the Facebook page of the SlutWalk of Belo Horizonte and of the  photographer Ananda Luz who took part in the march which passed through Rio de Janeiro, in a case which was condemned by her daughter, Tarsila Luz. Tarsila wrote [pt] on her Facebook profile page:

Galera, a minha mãe Ananda Luz não pode acessar o facebook hoje, está bloqueada porque foi denunciada as fotos que ela fez sobre a marcha das vadias… o engraçado e que retiraram somente fotos que as mulheres com seios de fora estavam em conflito com a polícia. Quem será que denunciou? Será que os mesmos fizeram com outros meios de comunicações? Por que incomoda tanto, nós mulheres, protestarmos? Chega dessa ditadura!!!!!!

Guys, my mother Ananda Luz cannot access her Facebook account today; it’s been blocked because of complaints about the photos that she took of the SlutWalk… the funny thing is that they only withdrew the photos of the bare-breasted women in conflict with the police.  So who was making the complaints? Did they also complain through other media? Why does the fact that we women are protesting cause such discomfort? Enough of this dictatorship!!!!!!

It’s possible to compare the photos from Luz’s Facebook album with those which appeared on Flickr and notice, for example, that one of the photos – amongst others – doesn’t appear in the former.  Curiously, the photos featuring men without shirts on were not censored.  The case was also picked up [pt] by the blogger Conceicao Oliveira in her blog.

One of the photos of Ananda Luz which was censored by Facebook.  Used with permission.

One of the photos of Ananda Luz which was censored by Facebook.  Used with permission.

The profile of the SlutWalk of Belo Horizonte was also censored and received many complaints.  Speaking on behalf of the group, the Facebook page’s administrator, Débora, commented [pt] that “the threats of beatings, the insults…these weren’t denounced.  They passed by unnoticed, common and accepted as they are in our society.”

Mas os peitos… ah, os peitos, afrontosos peitos, que ainda hoje assustam aqueles que cospem nas tetas que mamaram, esses seres de boa índole que querem ‘proteger sua filha de 5 anos da imoralidade do mundo'; aqueles que te asseguram que você ‘deveria ir marchar contra a corrupção'; aqueles que nos culpam de todas as moléstias do mundo; aqueles que afirmam que é por nossa causa que ‘o Brasil não vai pra frente'; aqueles porcos de alma imunda, por viverem na lama, só têm lama a oferecer às vacas profanas, às putas das divinas tetas, às vadias que têm a ousadia, a impáfia, o atrevimento, a infâmia, a imoralidade, a sem-vergonhice de… mostrar os peitos. Ah, os peitos! Polícia, socorro! Padre, me ajude! Há peitos livres lá fora, alguém me ajude, é urgente, eu tenho medo de peitos!!!

But the breasts… Ah, the breasts, those awful breasts, that even today frighten those who to spit on the breasts which suckled them, those people of good character who want to ”protect their five-year-old daughter from the immorality of the world”; the very same who assert that you “should march against corruption”; those who blame us for all the woes of the world; those who affirm that it’s our fault that “Brazil will not progress”; those pigs with filthy souls who, by wallowing in the mud, only have mud to offer to the filthy bitches, to the whores of the divine bosoms, to the tramps who have the audacity, the impudence, the infamy, the immorality, the shamelessness to…show their bare chests.  Ah, the breasts! Help! Police! Reverend Father, save me! There are some bare breasts out there, somebody help me! It’s urgent…I’m scared of breasts!!!
Photos censored by photos returned with black-outs on the profile of the SlutWalk of Belo Horizonte.

Photos censored by photos returned with black-outs on the profile of the SlutWalk of Belo Horizonte.

Another case which has an even higher profile is that of the journalist Luka Franca whose photo, in which she appears bare-breasted next to her daughter, “was denounced as ‘unsuitable content’ and Facebook agreed with the complaints, barring future posts and messages between the journalist and her friends”, explained [pt] Manu Barem, who blogs for Jezebel:

Mas aí veio a rebeldia: seus amigos compartilharam a foto centenas de vezes na rede social como forma de contestar a postura adotada pelo Facebook em relação ao ativismo de Luka.

But then the rebellion came along: Franca’s friends shared the photo hundreds of times on their social network as a protest against the stance taken by Facebook in relation to Luka’s activism.

Pedrão Ribeira Nogueira, was one of those who posted the photo of Luka on Facebook, and ended up being censored himself.

Photo of Luka Franca deleted by Facebook and jokingly posted “censored”, by Pedrão Nogueira.

Photo of Luka Franca deleted by Facebook and jokingly posted “censored”, by Pedrão Nogueira.

The activist herself wrote [pt] on her blog:

Para se retirar uma imagem ou publicação do ar é preciso que esta seja denunciada ao Facebook, mas quando se faz isso o próprio site indica que a imagem pode não ser retirada, justamente por causa do código de boa vizinhança que eles estabelecem – só lembrar que eles incluíram no código a questão da amamentação e das obras clássicas com nudez – ou seja, antes qualquer imagem era considerada pornografia, hoje o que não consta na lista de exceções do FB é suspenso e com 3 suspensões você é expulso da rede social, quase um colégio marista…

An image or publication has to be complained about for it to be taken offline, but when this happens, the site itself indicates that it is possible that the image will not be removed, simply because the ‘good neighbourhood’ code which they have set up is being cited.  It’s worth remembering that before images are deemed to be pornographic, exceptions will include images of breast-feeding and classical art featuring the nude body, for example.  If you do infringe the code you are suspended.  After three suspensions, you are expelled from the social network

Franca still remembers a previous case of suspension from Facebook – that of the activist Kalu, banned for posting a picture of herself breastfeeding.  In a similar way, she condemns the case of the Occupy São Paulo activist, Paula Lion, who was suspended for posting photos of women with uncovered breasts in the São Paulo SlutWalk.

Photo of  Paula Lion, censored by Facebook.

Photo of  Paula Lion, censored by Facebook.

Discussing the concept of the SlutWalk, professor and activist Maíra Kubik Mano said [pt]:

Dentro desse contexto de afirmação da liberdade e do corpo como um campo de batalha política, algumas manifestantes optaram por sair às ruas com os seios descobertos. Uma provocação, claro, para mostrar que a mulher não deve ser objeto de desejo 24 horas por dia, como querem as propagandas de cerveja.

Within the context of affirming liberty and of the human body as a political battleground, some protestors choose to go out on the streets with uncovered breasts.  It’s a provocation, of course, to demonstrate that a woman should not be an object of desire 24 hours a day, in the way that the advertisers of beer would like it to be.

She finishes:

Entendo que a empresa tenha uma política que proteja sua rede, por exemplo, de pedófilos. Mas faltou um bom discernimento para perceber a diferença entre protesto e pornografia.

I understand that Facebook has a policy which protects the social network from paedophiles, for example.  But we have to be able to distinguish the difference between protest and pornography.

All the censored photos were considered by Facebook to constitute “nudity and pornography

Facebook has a strict policy against the distribution of pornography and imposes limitations on exhibiting nudity.  In the same way, we have to respect the rights of people to share content of personal importance to them – be it photos of sculpture, such as Michaelangelo’s “David”, or family photos of a mother breastfeeding her baby.

Facebook, the website of public sharing, clearly does not make a distinction between “gratuitous” nudity, pornography and social activism.

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