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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. “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.

    • 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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/

  8. “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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