Facebook tells CNET but not Victoria Buckley they have apologized for Nipplegate


Well hopefully this story is finally completely done – but perhaps not quite.

I originally broke the news that Facebook had banned doll nipples, reviewed the saga of how they arbitrarily closed down the Save Ophelia protest group, and how, until today there had been major media coverage in 13 countries about this story, but not a peep in the US press.

Earlier today Chris Matyszczyk at CNET wrote Facebook apologizes for censoring doll’s nipples, reviewing the story and closing with the punchline:

I believe many people at Facebook to be extremely nice, reasonable and progressive. In addition, I now spend every day with Mark Zuckerberg’s dictum about the need to share more of myself as my guiding light. I therefore contacted Facebook for comment and received joyous and uplifting news.

Spokesman Barry Schnitt told me in an e-mail: “Our reviewers look at thousands of pictures a day that are reported to them. Of course they make an occasional mistake. This is just an example. We apologized and have encouraged the poster to put it up again.”

Well that’s very nice. Except for one thing: Victoria has NOT been contacted by Facebook to apologize, or to be encouraged to post the images again. Given they have already arbitrarily made vanish a protest group where the offending pictures were hosted, Victoria is not likely to put the pictures on her own Facebook page again and risk losing her site with over 2,000 fans, unless she does receive this direct communication.

The other thing to note is that Facebook was asked for a response to this story by media organizations around the world including Sydney Morning Herald and Toronto Sun, and never chose to respond – there was complete and utter silence. It took a question from a US media organization based primarily in Silicon Valley to get an answer. Without that, Victoria would never have got her alleged apology. Just as long as we know how Facebook thinks and works.

[UPDATE:] Hopefully well and truly rounding out this story, Sydney Morning Herald has published another story Facebook relents on doll nipples ban (which once again is the top story on the site), quoting Victoria:

“I’m delighted that Facebook has seen reason, and they are acknowledging that the images are acceptable,” Buckley said this morning.

“However, I still haven’t heard from Facebook directly. I would love to be able to repost my original images, but I’m concerned that a single complaint in the future might be grounds for closure.

“The Facebook system is still very opaque and seems very arbitrary.”

[UPDATE 2:] Well over 24 hours after Facebook said they had apologized to Victoria, they sent her an email with pretty much the same words they gave CNET. Great. It’s good to know that Facebook is not entirely faceless, and that given a few dozen major media stories around the world including from Silicon Valley, you can actually get a response out of them.