Facebook’s Tribal Culture Censorship Update: A Small Victory

Facebook’s Tribal Culture Censorship Update: A Small Victory December 23, 2017

Earlier this week, I blogged about the issue of images of Orang Rimba children being censored on Facebook.

The problem was that Facebook had decided that photos of young children from the Orang Rimba tribe of the Sumatran rainforests, who traditionally don’t wear much from the waist up, violated their policies regarding nudity. As a result, an important BBC article about the Orang Rimba’s plight at the hands of the palm oil industry and radical Islamists was censored, because the preview image for article featured such a photo of the children.  This censorship is troubling for a number of reasons: it contributes to the erasure of Orang Rimba culture, it implies that bare-chested prepubescent children are “sexual,” and it means that voices of oppressed people are being silenced.

Since then, there’s an update…

I tweeted Rebecca Henschke, BBC Indonesian editor/correspondent and author of the BBC article, to let her know what was going on. I was delighted to receive the following reply:

So, it’s a partial success! The BBC have had their original article restored following complaints. However, it appears that other pictures remain blocked.

There is clearly still work to be done to encourage Facebook to respect tribal peoples’ culture, and not censor it. But kudos to Rebecca Henschke and the BBC (and anyone else who raised the issue) for this small victory.

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