If the legend is to be believed, then the Facebook we know today was born of an algorithm created by a stung Mark Zuckerberg, who’d retreated to his dorm room lair to fuel up on beer and exact a nerd’s revenge. Having allegedly been stood up by a girl, he designed a program that would allow users to rate the looks of female classmates, presumably exposing a significant portion of the student population to the same sense of rejection he was experiencing. It’s a somewhat ignoble beginning to what’s now a pretty lofty concept—hoping to be a forum for worldwide connection and meaningful social exchange.
But just how far is Facebook removed from its misogynist roots? In the past, it has removed pictures of breastfeeding mothers because exposed nipples and areolas violate the site’s nudity policy. It has proven an effective tool for the kind of “slut shaming” that drives vulnerable teenagers to despair and self-harm. And it has routinely deleted the work of artists who dare to depict the human form in various states of undress. A couple weeks back, I wrote about Chicago artist Julia Haw, whose work Power Pussy inspired a spirited Facebook thread that was deleted by moderators for reasons that were never explained. Facebook also censored images of her work as it was in violation of their seemingly nebulous policies. Just a few days later, the same fate befell Chicago artist Ellen Greene when she was suddenly locked out of her Facebook account for violating the company’s policy against vulgarity.
The vulgar piece in question was a drawing depicting Greene’s experience of childbirth.