Saturday, September 6, 2014

C'mon, Facebook! Images of Dog Fighting are Ok? Really?

First, many thanks to Lindsay Hunter for alerting me about this dog fighting page. Facebook, for whatever reason -- a friend of mine has speculated (and this seems likely) that their algorithm for determining what is a violation of community standards must be is off, somehow -- has allowed a graphic group page promoting dog fighting to exist on their social media platform. If you report the photos you'll get back sometime later a response indicating the pictures, many of which depict violent images of dogs attacking each other (and this is for sport, mind you), are not in violation of community standards, which is entirely untrue, based on Facebook's own definition

Here's their policy regarding violent imagery (emphasis is mine):

Facebook has long been a place where people turn to share their experiences and raise awareness about issues important to them. Sometimes, those experiences and issues involve graphic content that is of public interest or concern, such as human rights abuses or acts of terrorism. In many instances, when people share this type of content, it is to condemn it. However, graphic images shared for sadistic effect or to celebrate or glorify violence have no place on our site. 

It would seem the textbook definition of dog fighting that in some way it celebrates or glorifies violence and usually for sadistic effect. I mean, Michael Vick didn't go to prison for nearly two years for no reason.

And some have noted this is clearly not a page run by anyone in America. It appears to be Turkish, in fact, where supposedly, and if true then also despicably, dog fighting is legal. That should have no impact on Facebook, however, a multinational corporation whose allegiance should be to general good taste and human decency, all of which no matter its legality, dog fighting is not.

It's probable this is some kind of glitch, oversight, not the earnest response of the flesh-and-blood people behind Facebook, but that still doesn't really excuse it. If you're interested in viewing the page while it's still up (and I hope soon it is not) Click Here -- but be warned, there are many graphic images. Please do tweet @Facebook about what they're condoning. And spread the word. My friend Robyn Pennacchia has written about the issue as well over at Death+Taxes.

And finally, perhaps most disturbingly of all, the group's membership has actually grown since I first noticed it, proving once again that it's never too loathsome for people to double down. I encourage no one to join the group who is actively interested in its removal.

UPDATE 9/8/2014: Happy to say I finally received this notice from Facebook:

We reviewed the photo you reported for containing graphic violence. Since it violated our Community Standards, we removed it. Thanks for your report. We let Game Dog Pitbull know that their photo has been removed, but not who reported it.

And while it's not the wholesale removal of a group that glorifies dog fighting (which might have the benefit, if allowed to remain open, of allowing people who participate on it in places it's illegal to be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law), it's at least a start.

I still think the site should be removed entirely, especially because it's likely most of the people actively participating on it live in countries where this sort of animal abuse is legal for some insane reason. That means, even if it were to become illegal there (say for instance in Turkey, where it's said to be legal), ex post facto designation and all would make something that's already not likely to be prosecuted even less likely. At least Facebook could take a demonstrative stand against this activity, which should never be condoned, even implicitly.

UPDATE 9/10/2014: Facebook has finally made the decision to remove the pro-dog fighting group from the website entirely. Thanks for getting the word out, everyone. Glad to see most people don't condone this sort of thing.

UPDATE 9/10/2014: Wait! Oops, no! Instead, Facebook has allowed the group to continue its existence AND even the worst photos are still on the site.

UPDATE 9/11/2014: So I presume it's possible for someone to re-upload pictures that violate community standards, but I gather that's not the case here. Everything I think about whatever is going on in the byzantine, essentially Kafkaesque corporate structure of Facebook is at this point pure speculation. Still, once again, after having reported the most violent image on the group's page and that report being at first rejected for defying "Community Standards" it is now once again been subject to further review and found to have, in fact, yes, violated "Community Standards." Figure if nothing else it's good to chronicle all the absurdity here, for some kind of record.

UPDATE 9/13/2014: Did I mention Facebook alerted me to the fact that they again removed a particularly violent photo from the offending group? No? Will it stay gone? How can anyone know?