Washington State Woman Proudly Posts Weight Loss Picture . . . Facebook Removes Picture As Inappropriate In Advancing “Idealized Physical Appearances”

article-2538259-1A9A61D000000578-15_306x423We recently discussed a weight-loss advocate who was taken off Facebook for potential hate speech in criticizing a plus-sized clothing ad campaign. Now, Marilyn McKenna of Washington State says that a similar thing happened to her. McKenna posted an image to show how much weight she lost (over 100 pounds) only to have Facebook reportedly inform her that the picture was inappropriate for promoting “idealized physical appearances.”

McKenna says that the photo above was removed by Facebook.

article-2538259-1A9A61E000000578-359_306x423article-2538259-1A9A61DC00000578-593_306x423She says that she was just proud of what is clearly an amazing level of weight loss. However, Facebook later told media that the photo was rejected because McKenna had paid to “boost” the picture, which would help it to reach a larger audience. That made it an advertisement and that “Facebook’s terms require advertisers of weight loss and other adult products to limit the audience of their ads to people aged 18 and over.”

I am confused. Why does it make it an advertisement if she was not selling anything. Moreover, how is she supposed to limit it by age group? Presumably, plenty of people boost their Facebook sites. While I understand the problems associated with a “never too thin” culture for young girls particularly, this raises core free speech issues for me. Putting aside the fact that McKenna seemed to simply want to share an amazing personal accomplishment, she should have free speech protections in addressing more controversial aspects of this subject. This concern was heightened a couple years ago when England moved to be “fatism” a form of hate speech.

She does not have to look far for a pro bono lawyer. She is married to former Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna.

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32 thoughts on “Washington State Woman Proudly Posts Weight Loss Picture . . . Facebook Removes Picture As Inappropriate In Advancing “Idealized Physical Appearances”

  1. Seriously? What the heck? Facebook needs to spend more time preventing cyber bullying! This is ridiculous. I’m very interested in how this unfolds…

  2. Are they nuts? Here’s someone with a great success story that would inspire many. As for Facebook exposing away privacy, it will happen anywhere on line; here too to some degree. Notice how ‘free’ services & ads know how old you are, when you buy an airline ticket, etc. Its not quite “The Minority Report’ with eye scanning but it might as well be! Unless you want to be a hermit, one answer is to try to stay within the law & improve the law so its not picking on you for frivoulous, unimportant or religiously biased morality. We have to get rid of the Illuminati & all theocracies to get very far with that one.

  3. Why I, and most right thinking people, have real issues w/ this anorexic look foisted upon women, this is Facebook thing is overreaction and outrageous. It’s just a matter of time when you have a computer genius w/ Asperger’s running a social website that bizarre stuff like this starts happening. Along w/ the anorexic model problem, we also have a huge obesity problem. BOTH are health issues. When you are dealing w/ either extreme, anorexic or obese, the approach must be HEALTH, not weight. And, that’s because it is about health, if you’re logical and concerned.

  4. Probably some fat dude snacking on Oreos, chips, peanut butter cups and drinking diet soda got jealous…..

  5. I’m not on facebook but if what JT says above is correct (that this paying to enhance or “boost” your facebook profile is a common practice), my question then in reply to facebook’s lame (lame-lame-lame!) excuse is,

    “Okay, then, show us your evidence that Facebook polices every single boosted profile to ensure it is in compliance with all Facebook advertising guidelines”.

    But as to this comment, “this raises core free speech issues for me”, I’m not sure I understand. FB is a commercial website and people are either free to join or not join, abide by whatever rules it sets or not, and to take their business elsewhere if they don’t like FB’s policies.

    On the other hand, it would (to me) seem to implicate free speech issues if it was a case that some government regulation required FB to take the action it did here.

  6. Seems wrong on its face but as was said it is being paid for, that is a private action and not state. I had always thought that a company could put criteria in place for what they will accept and will not. Had she done so without the payment boost it would have been interesting to see if they would have done the same. I would be surprised if in fact other folk with this kind of success have posted pics but without the boost and they were left alone by FB

  7. Congrats to the lady for the wonderful weight loss. The congratulations to Facebook will not be forthcoming. I realize she paid to push her story, but as stated above, she was not selling anything. Facebook should worry about real problems and not make up their own.

  8. As a libertarian I fundamentally say FB has the right to do that if it truly is in their EULA.
    But, WTF? Who the hell are they to go around imposing arbitrary moral standards on people who are just proud of their accomplishments?
    Legally, although not libertarian, I think there might still be a cause of action there, as FB;s actions implicate both free speech and a protected class by their own admission, fat people.
    To tell a fat person, or a formerly fat person, that they cannot use FB’s public accommodation service to communicate or speak of their battles with weight, can be turned into a federal cause of action.
    Whether the courts will go for it is another question, but I do think it is a legitimate civil complaint.

  9. This is wrong of Facebook. People put all sorts of things on that site.

    If you are looking at this as an “achievement” without question, that claim may or may not be true. Some types of weight loss actually harm one’s body. Whatever the case with this particular woman, this is of no concern to Facebook.

  10. While I understand the problems associated with a “never too thin” culture for young girls particularly, this raises core free speech issues for me. Putting aside the fact that McKenna seemed to simply want to share an amazing personal accomplishment, she should have free speech protections in addressing more controversial aspects of this subject.

    There are many liberal social justice warriors who would deride you Professor, since what these hashtag warriors will proudly state is that it’s not a free speech issue at all, since Facebook is not the government.

    For instance here is tenured biology professor PZ Myers and Amanda Marcotte:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/06/08/the-freeze-peach-brigade-gets-taught-a-lesson/

    Free speech entitles you to:
    Say what you want to without fear of government censorship or retribution.

    To have others host your speech. This is a corollary to the first one. Facebook, blog comment sections, online forums, etc. are just like TV shows, radio shows, and magazines: Their house, their rules. They have built up an audience and they are not obligated to turn around and give you that audience to spew your garbage. Start your own damn website/magazine/forum.

    I blame the internet for their ignorance. It’s been infected with this ridiculous libertarian bullshit for so long…

    And here is Popehat’s Ken White:

    http://www.popehat.com/2013/12/21/ten-points-about-speech-ducks-and-flights-to-africa/

    2. The phrase “the spirit of the First Amendment” often signals approaching nonsense. So, regrettably, does the phrase “free speech” when uncoupled from constitutional free speech principles. These terms often smuggle unprincipled and internally inconsistent concepts — like the doctrine of the Preferred+ First Speaker. The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker holds that when Person A speaks, listeners B, C, and D should refrain from their full range of constitutionally protected expression to preserve the ability of Person A to speak without fear of non-governmental consequences that Person A doesn’t like. The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker applies different levels of scrutiny and judgment to the first person who speaks and the second person who reacts to them; it asks “why was it necessary for you to say that” or “what was your motive in saying that” or “did you consider how that would impact someone” to the second person and not the first. It’s ultimately incoherent as a theory of freedom of expression.

    I would very much love to read your ideas and understanding of the history of free speech, freedom of expression and how that relates (or doesn’t always relate) to the First Amendment

  11. If Mrs. McKenna wanted to announce her weight loss experience in a local newspaper with a paid column she would not be able to do so under some EULA with the newspaper? I thought facebook’s intent was to make money through advertising.

    Looks like facebook chose the wrong battle with this row. I don’t think this type oof issue helps facebook’s bottom line and reputation.

  12. This is really amazing. I regularly report porn on FB, but I’ve learned that graphic sketches/cartoons showing sexual penetration or what appears to involve children is determines to be acceptable. Only photographic material is considered to be porn. FB has a very broken way of determining what is proper content.

  13. Humans need some guidance on this Facebook/uttBayBook routine. Avoid exposing yourself. It is one thing to take a leak in someone’s yard or to hang some wash out to dry on a clothesline. But to go so far as to put your life out for display on some uttBayBook thing is beyond the Pale. Beyond The Pale is Beyond The Paletinate. You have gone a bridge too far. You are now in Pirate Territory and all bets are off. What you suffer is your own doing. You are like a dumb smoker. And why say dumb. If you want publicity go on the Howdy Doodey Show. “Hi mom, hi dad, hi everybody. And this one’s for you Herbie!” Then flip Herbie The Bird. Y’all know what the Bird is? Or The Herbie? Anyone on this blog from Saint Louis? Chime in.

  14. Corporate control of speech as well as corporate control of the media and the Internet will eliminate free speech as a concept in the US because the government is slowing giving over all of its power to corporations. As a result. Speech will be at the mercy of corporations whose attacks on free speech are not controlled or prohibited by the First Amendment. We come to dystopia!

  15. I seriously doubt that anyone but a lowly ill trained moderator had anything to do with this. The “boosting” claim was just a lame attempt at damage control.

    A few years ago when Kate Middleton was about to marry her prince, Facebook took down the page of a women with the same name and accused her of posing as THE Kate Middleton. Never mind that the page originated before anyone knew who the future queen was, or that there was nothing on the page remotely related to royalty of any kind, or that both Kate and Middleton are common anglo names. The page was restored after some embarrassing news coverage.

    No conspiracy here.

  16. I have to agree with Simms that this is likely more a result of incompetence and arbitrariness than nefarious policy. I also agree that this doesn’t — at least as a legal matter — raise any First Amendment (or Equal Protection) issues. Facebook is private and both the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause are directed at the government.

    I do think this incident — and other’s like it — pose interesting questions about American governance. As corporations become increasingly powerful and increasingly in control of modes of communication, do we need new legal rules to preserve avenues for speech? Do we need new rules to ensure equal treatment and due process when corporations have replaced government as primary instruments of shaping society?

  17. “Legally, although not libertarian, I think there might still be a cause of action there, as FB;s actions implicate both free speech and a protected class by their own admission, fat people.
    To tell a fat person, or a formerly fat person, that they cannot use FB’s public accommodation service to communicate or speak of their battles with weight, can be turned into a federal cause of action.

    I did not realize that overweight persons are a protected class in the US. I searched but could not find any reference to such protection. Please enlighten me.

  18. I agree that fat/overweight persons are not a commonly considered protected class, that is why I said in my post ‘whether the courts would go for it is another question.’
    However, as I also said there, FB itself is admittedly treating overweightness as a class of people, and basing its restrictive responsive behavior upon it. Furthermore, overweightness can ostensibly be cited as a disability.
    It is new law admittedly here, but the parametric legal elements are there ready for a lawsuit, the only question is one of substantive interpretation of the elements, and whether the courts would accept such an interpretation.

    Again also note that I do not agree with these legal remedies from a libertarian POV, because libertarianism does not purport to regulate private business behavior; but the federal civil rights act and ADA absolutely does regulate private business discrimination for any public accommodation, which FB most certainly is.

  19. I would also add, that there is a cause of action available if the EULA that FB published and entered into with the user, permits such content on their site, then that is a breach of contract, which is both acceptable in common law and libertarian law.

  20. Huh? Of course it’s incompetence and will be rescinded, but what’s important is not this obvious case of incompetence that will be rescinded, but all of the other cases in which perfectly fine speech is suppressed due to application of these same idiotic rules.

    When you see the tip of the iceberg, you now know there is a huge lurking menace that you can’t see.

    This false positive testifies to other false positives as well.

    And yes, a lot of it can be blamed on feminists demanding that Facebook ban hate speech.

    http://madamenoire.com/279578/facebook-concedes-to-feminists-demands-to-ban-hate-speech-on-site/

  21. “I have to agree with Simms that this is likely more a result of incompetence and arbitrariness than nefarious policy.” I can’t quite remember the exact quote, but I think it was from Robert Heinlein: “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence or apathy.”

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