Thursday, 26 August 2010

Facebook and Hate

(source: Art Monthly, Jul-Aug 2010)

"Artist Paul Harfleet has been working on his Pansy Project for several years, planting flowers in the street where there has been an incident of homophobic abuse: he photographs the flowers and titles the images with the grotesque language of the abuse. The project has its own website and, for more than three years, its own group on Facebook. Recently, Harfleet received an email from Facebook informing him that the company has deleted his project's group because it violated the social-networking site's Terms of Use. The email helpfully explained that, 'among other things, groups that are hateful, threatening, or obscene are not allowed'. Harfleet generously presumes that Facebook has not intentionally acted with homophobic intent but that some kind of automated software has simply scanned the titles of his images and triggered the action. However, his emails pleading for common sense to prevail have met with machine-like silence. The incident is an object lesson in what may happen when unregulated services offered by private companies become so popular that they resemble national infrastructure."

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