Cyanide & Happiness is a web comic (also available in book form) that gets pretty dark at times — as the name implies. Abortion, religion, death, and suicide are among the topics tackled by the four-man black-comedy team.
Yesterday, co-creator Rob DenBleyker found out he had been banned from Facebook for 12 hours. His offense? This comic (I can’t say I even understood the joke at first), which had been on his personal Facebook page for four months.
Out of the blue, someone (or several people?) decided that such heresy must be reported and punished.
I stuck this one on my Facebook page shortly after it went on our site. … Through likes and shares, it reached over a million people overall. It makes me feel really good that my silly comic was viewed by that many people. But then four months later, this morning, I logged in to an alert that the comic had been removed for being abusive, followed by a 12 hour ban message. …
This strip is a dude innocently using a crucifix as a workout machine rather than a torture device. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but this could possibly be the most G-rated cartoon about a crucifix ever made.
He’s left scratching his head about Team Zuckerberg’s odd and inconsistent censorship — a problem not just in this instance, but across the board.
Like I said, this comic was viewed by a million people. It would be fair to say most of them weren’t fans of my page, or readers of Cyanide & Happiness. They saw it on their news feeds due to others sharing it. I offended some very specific people, the kinds of people who don’t like my comics to begin with, and those people filed reports. Enough of them did so that Facebook banned the comic, and banned me.
That’s kind of a weird protocol. The largest social platform (which makes it a platform for art and ideas, too) in history blocks content and threatens creators based solely on the opinions of a minority that doesn’t even care for said content to begin with. I think you can do better, Facebook.
One solution DenBleyker proposes:
Include a feature by which people who don’t like a thing don’t have to see it on their [Facebook] feed. I would gladly welcome an “I Hate This” button on my page if it means people who don’t like what I make never have to see it.
Fine by me. Or we could just all live by Stephen Fry‘s suitably grown-up credo:
A man can dream.