UPDATE [01:20] The ban has been lifted! Grapevine articles are back on SkyNet. Thank all of you who RT’d and reported so much!
Yesterday was a big day for social media in Iceland, as local feminist activists took to Twitter and started a wave (that quickly turned into a tsunami) with their spirited and inspiring take on the #FreeTheNipple campaign against social media body-shaming and double standards.
Naturally, we at Grapevine have been reporting on this emerging movement, accompanying our initial story with a pastiche of #FreeTheNipple photos collaged by our wonderful journalist Nanna. Here’s the image we used:
Inspiring, right? A whole bunch of women – MPs, students, musicians, cancer survivors – standing up proud, refusing to be silenced or shamed into submission by the patriarchy (it’s real).
While aware that the story and accompanying image might offend some of our more casual followers, and that the act might even get us a slap on the wrist, we of course decided to share it with our almost 40.000 Facebook followers. This is an important debate that, among other things, touches upon the validity of letting archaic social norms and misogynistic standards dictate one’s conduct and self-image.
Sure enough, Facebook eventually deleted our Facebook post, with admins of Facebook.com/ReykjavíkGrapevine receiving this message shortly before they were logged out of the service and asked to verify their identity:
“Oh well,” we thought. “That was bound to happen.”
Still, people kept posting the original story to their personal Facebooks. It went far and wide today, accumulating something like 4.200 ‘likes’ at last count. It’s no wonder, either: it’s an inspiring, uplifting story about a bunch of women coming together and taking a stand for what they believe in,
Then, a couple of hours later, we noticed something was off with our magazine’s Facebook page, where we generally like to post our stories and shoot the shit with our readers (or at least observe our readers shoot the shit while passively liking some of their funnier comments). All of the links we had posted to our own stories through something like seven years of operation were… gone. They just weren’t there.
Our pics were there. Our ‘status updates’ were there. But not anything that linked to www.grapevine.is. It’s as if we almost never existed. Weird, right?
Some testing revealed that this was no coincidence or weird freak glitch. Nope, in the aftermath of #Nipplegate, Facebook’s censors had reviewed our site and deemed it “unfit for human consumption”. “Unsafe”. We tried posting a boobless story:
The same went for when we tried posting any story. On our personal pages as well as on our magazine page. What likely happened is this: even after Facebook deleted our own post, readers around the world kept sharing the story. This in turn prompted some of their more puritan friends to report the story, which created a barrage of complaints to go over. Which ultimately lead The Admins to disable www.grapevine.is in its entirety, deeming it “unsafe”.
We tested it further.
Journalist Gabríel Benjamin’s thorough investigation of the ongoing troubles of Iceland’s healthcare system?
Nope. There might be a nipple.
That heartwarming story of “When Pippa Met Sigur Rós“?
Nope. Someone might get offended. It’s a dangerous site.
“Hey, maybe Facebook have just greatly toughened their standards and have also started throwing out all those crazy, racist, clickbait-and-switch, fake satire, misogyny-promoting sites out there? That could explain it. Let’s see if we can post a link to that creep Roosh‘s guide about how to borderline daterape girls in Iceland:
Oh hey. That’s fine. Surely there aren’t any nipples there.
Long story short: Grapevine.is has been deemed an ‘unsafe’ site by an underpaid, outsourced Facebook drone (our hearts go out to you guys), entrusted with maintaining their vague ‘moral standards’, deleting pics of breastfeeding mothers inbetween having to endure scat, decapitation videos and bestiality supercuts. And this is greatly disconcerting for all sorts of reasons.
Leave aside the fact that our online traffic is painfully dependent on Facebook (as that is where many of our readers tend to source their stories), that is beside the point (although of course we love traffic, as it allows us to sell ads that then in turn allow us to pay our writers and photographers and illustrators better rates for their contributions).
What’s scary is that by becoming so dependent on Facebook – as publishers who want readers, and as human beings who have taken to relying on the network for an increasing part of our social interactions and media intake – we have granted them the power to shape our reality to a disturbing extent (the same goes for Google, Apple, etc). Facebook doesn’t think you need to see something? Well, it doesn’t exist. Facebook doesn’t like you for some reason? You don’t exist.
As we move further into our self-styled, metric-based digital existence, this is something to keep in mind.
Meanwhile, we have 40.000 humans out there who have asked us to let them know if we have interesting stories to report, and no way to do that. We would be most grateful if you could take the time to post any article off www.grapevine.is to your newsfeed, and then use their ‘complaint’ button to refute claims that we are an “unsafe site”. Below is an example of such a complaint, but you should by all means say whatever it is you want to say. This would really help. Hey, maybe we can body shame them into rethinking this whole imposition of archaic values on their user base?
Also: it should be noted that Twitter dot com have made no motions to censor us or this campaign. Maybe we should follow one another there, instead?
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