Several Facebook users have taken to the platform to complain that their posts about convicted rapist Brock Turner — whose treatment and sentencing in the wake of sexually assaulting a fellow student at Stanford University has drawn widespread criticism — have disappeared.
Here are a few examples from earlier today:
The meme in question appears to be this one, which was also posted to Imgur about two days ago:
It appears that these users all shared the same post, which has now disappeared. While identical memes can still be found on Facebook (here, here, and here, for example) and have been shared thousands of times, Facebook confirmed to Gizmodo that at least one original posts (which was then re-shared an unknown number of times) was removed.
“This content was removed in error, and we are currently working to restore it. Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong. We’re very sorry about this mistake,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
The platform’s community standards dictate that it does not tolerate bullying or harassment of private individuals, but that it does “allow you to speak freely on matters and people of public interest”. According to the spokesperson, the removal may have stemmed from confusion over Turner’s public versus private status: he was initially classed as a private individual, but the uproar over his recent sentencing has drawn him into the public sphere.
For some Facebook users, however, the removal was simply evidence of more of the same. “I think it’s further evidence that certain people have privilege, and they can get their needs met,” Emilee Mainali, whose meme post disappeared yesterday, told Gizmodo when reached by phone today. “There’s this white male privilege bullshit machine that’s definitely driving that bus.”
“Most rapists aren’t caught because they’re not caught doing it. As a woman, I am outraged at this ruling — but on top of all that, then for Facebook to get involved, [and] I’m not even really allowed to say how I feel about it?” she added. “We do need to have a voice, we need to advocate for ourselves.”
Facebook’s spokesperson confirmed to Gizmodo that the standards team was working on restoring the original content, and that it would endeavour to ensure that future posts remained in place.
Update: According to a few of the users, the original post is now back and can be found here.