• Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    Looking for a good time? Well, don't post about it on Facebook.

    Tumblr (part of Yahoo owned by the Verizon unit, Oath) and Facebook have new, eros-unfriendly rules for their sites. Since Tumblr's beginning, they have hosted several hundred thousand adult blogs, contributing hugely to their site's traffic volume. Facebook's target is "implicit requests for sex". No more sexual slang or hints of sexual roles when mentioned with a sex act. "Looking for a good time tonight" is now a verboten phrase. Tumblr will begin purging sexual explicit material, nudity, female nipples, and naked art work on December 17.

    I consider sexually explicit material, photos or paintings of nudes--including female nipples--to be appropriate material for people over 16 or 18 to view, enjoy, and share with their peers. I prefer gay erotica (pornography) but I take the same view towards straight erotica or pornography -- whichever term you prefer.

    The principles of free expression can and has included erotica as well as politics, theology, philosophy, art, the news, novels, and so on. But there has always been a rear guard action against erotica, pornography, and liberated sexual behavior. The market for erotica and pornography was greatly expanded in the late 1960s and 1970s, along with relaxed rules for novels such as Lady Chatterly's Lover. As soon as the legal market expanded, restrictive zoning laws and police harassment were put in place.

    The rear guard action is back, it would seem. What Tumblr and Facebook have done might well be done by Twitter, Instagram, et al.

    Do you see anything at stake for democracy in Facebook and Tumblr's actions? Both of these platforms have extensive international participation; this isn't just an American issue.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    Apple removed Tumblr's app from their store; they claimed the removal was in response to child pornography being found on the site. It may be that child porn was displayed on some accounts. I don't know -- what you see on Tumblr depends entirely on what you ask to see (by following accounts). But even if there was child pornography being shared on the site, it would make more sense to root out such material rather than purging the entire site of the many millions of photos which are perfectly legal.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    Side Note: Minneapolis is still (slowly) undoing restrictive laws on liquor sales put in place after prohibition ended. Loosening the grip of restrictive morality can take a long time.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    Why not? You might not feel your expression is limited in any way, but what about your neighbor who does feel limited by such bans?
  • Hanover
    4.9k
    Why not? You might not feel your expression is limited in any way, but what about your neighbor who does feel limited by such bans?Bitter Crank

    But can you require that Tumblr and Facebook allow the posting of pornography? That seems more oppressive than allowing them to prohibit it. There's the possibility that the Tumblr creators are like the Nobels, horrified that their innovation has been used for the forces of evil. Could be. I don't know the fuckers. Maybe they've made their good fortune and can now afford to live sanctimoniously. I, for one, would live sanctimoniously if it weren't so expensive. I don't even like to pay extra for non-abused chicken. It's likely abused chickens are more tender anyway.

    At any rate, I would expect that porn on the internet will continue somewhere and somehow despite this bump in the road and that everyone will still be able to enjoy all the flavors of their choice. I'd also expect that someone new will arrive at the scene to provide a platform for whatever depravity is profitable. To assume otherwise would assume this great big capitalistic machine that controls our lives no longer works, and that just can't be.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    Side Note: Minneapolis is still (slowly) undoing restrictive laws on liquor sales put in place after prohibition ended. Loosening the grip of restrictive morality can take a long time.Bitter Crank

    The problem re the sexual stuff is that we've been going pretty backwards for the last few decades re "loosening the grip of restrictive morality."

    I'm not sure what's driving the fact that we've been going backwards--it's surely a complex of factors, and one of them was surely the rise of AIDS, but one of the main controlling, "high-level" factors is that we've maneuvered to a society where (1) livelihoods can easily be trashed via moralizing social pressure, (2) People are more prone to moralizing, including bandwagon-moralizing than ever, (3) and we've fueled this via the ubiquity of social media, where a few crazy, squeaky wheels can have a bigger impact than ever.

    Facebook, Apple, etc. are just trying to watch their asses. They're not really making any moral decisions. They just want to stay in business and remain as profitable as they've been. What we need to do is change our culture so that we don't see moralizing and victimhood as virtues, and it would help if we had a different economic structure in place, so that social pressure from moralizers doesn't matter.
  • Michael
    8k
    Do you see anything at stake for democracy in Facebook and Tumblr's actions?Bitter Crank

    No. Their actions don't affect your right to vote or stand for election.

    I consider sexually explicit material, photos or paintings of nudes--including female nipples--to be appropriate material for people over 16 or 18 to view, enjoy, and share with their peers. I prefer gay erotica (pornography) but I take the same view towards straight erotica or pornography -- whichever term you prefer.

    You're more than welcome to post such content on a website of your own making.

    So much for free speech and the sexual revolution, Tumblr and Facebook...

    The right to free speech isn't the same as the right to use someone else's platform.
  • SophistiCat
    815
    Just want to add that Facebook is not just one website among many, one product offering among many. In some parts Facebook is pretty much synonymous with Internet, which makes it more like a utility, for better or for worse. So what Facebook does (or does not do) is not just a private business decision - it has a global social impact.
  • unenlightened
    3.9k


    I'll add to your addition that the control of sexuality is always part of social control. It passed from religion to the state, and has now passed from the state to the corporation. It has no effect on democracy, because democracy has no effect, because all aspects of power have gone from governments and are in the hands of corporations.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    The right to free speech isn't the same as the right to use someone else's platform.Michael

    I wasn't demanding that any platform comply with my wishes. Verizon, Facebook, Apple, et al can set whatever rules they wish. However, their decisions are not above criticism and their policies may affect the body politic -- for instance, Facebooks's lax policing of political ads and posts before the 2016 election. Newspapers can publish whatever news they think fit to print; that doesn't mean their decisions are above the most excoriating criticism when they misrepresent reality.

    As @unenlightened has noted, parts of the once public body politic have migrated to the corporation. Take as an example the problem of accessing citizens in public to collect signatures for a petition, leaflet for some cause -- peace, sympathy with a strike, a political candidate -- etc. The "public square" sphere has become largely corporate property. In the US, the places people go and congregate are mostly private spaces like shopping malls (which include the parking lots). The malls look like public spaces, but are not. Security people routinely eject anyone leafletting, petitioning, or quietly protesting -- let alone anything more assertive.

    What about "public sidewalks"? They are public property and one can demonstrate, petition, or leaflet to one's heart's content. But if you want to go where the most people are, the public sidewalk will generally be outside of the parking lot perimeter and sometimes 300 feet (90 m) or more from the front door of the establishment.

    Back to Tumblr and Facebook et al: To suppose that abrupt policy changes (some in place for a decade or two) are a matter of political indifference is shortsighted. We don't have the Great Fire Wall of China, but we have a (so far) softer system of thought suppression.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    I'm not sure what's driving the fact that we've been going backwards--it's surely a complex of factors, and one of them was surely the rise of AIDS, but one of the main controlling, "high-level" factors is that we've maneuvered to a society where (1) livelihoods can easily be trashed via moralizing social pressure, (2) People are more prone to moralizing, including bandwagon-moralizing than ever, (3) and we've fueled this via the ubiquity of social media, where a few crazy, squeaky wheels can have a bigger impact than ever.Terrapin Station

    One way to account for a backward drift is that large portions of the population never approved of liberalization of values in the first place. Gay marriage is now possible coast to coast; that doesn't mean that most people now approve of homosexuality. Large blocks of the population do now and have always disapproved. Numerous civil rights laws have been passed; that doesn't mean that most people are now color blind. "Bohemians" might establish interesting urban enclaves, but they tend to get "redeveloped" out of existence. Birth control and liberalized abortion helped make a "sexual revolution" possible, but again, large numbers of people never approved of the sexual revolution. Divorce rates notwithstanding, marriage is still the norm.

    Political and sexual deviants like myself tend to associate with other political and sexual deviants. This can lead to a serious misapprehension about what the masses are thinking.

    it would help if we had a different economic structure in place, so that social pressure from moralizers doesn't matter.Terrapin Station

    Indeed.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    Political and sexual deviants like myself tend to associate with other political and sexual deviants. This can lead to a serious misapprehension about what the masses are thinking.Bitter Crank

    That's a good point. My perspective is pretty skewed because I was born in 1962, and I have very libertarian/libertine/hippieish parents who treated me like an equal almost immediately, plus my musical skills catapulted me into an (again libertine) adult world when I was pretty young, too--I was making money from music by the mid 1970s, So it seemed to me like the whole world was in the midst of a major change.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    It has no effect on democracy, because democracy has no effect, because all aspects of power have gone from governments and are in the hands of corporations.unenlightened

    I think you are underestimating the power of the state, but I agree. Besides, the state has generally been on the side of the corporation. (Marx: "The state is a committee to organize the affairs of the bourgeoisie.") The transnationality of corporations, and the enormous wealth lodged in the hands of a tiny fraction of the world's population (where, according to Oxfam, a handful of individuals possess more wealth than half the world's population) is a relatively new arrangement. There is a lot of hidden money sloshing around in tax havens which are outside of national revenue departments' reach.
  • Hanover
    4.9k
    Just want to add that Facebook is not just one website among many, one product offering among many. In some parts Facebook is pretty much synonymous with Internet, which makes it more like a utility, for better or for worse. So what Facebook does (or does not do) is not just a private business decision - it has a global social impact.SophistiCat

    No, it is but one website among many and it is nothing like a utility. If you don't want to communicate via Facebook, then don't. I don't. If I don't like my water, power, sewage, or gas company, it's not like I can shop somewhere else. If I don't like my social media site, I can find another way to communicate.
  • Athena
    294


    I do not believe it is good for society to make intimate behavior public. I also am not at all in favor of freedom of expression. I am strongly in favor of freedom of speech that is about reasoning, but not about cussing and saying offensive things. As I see it, it is only the freedom to reason that needs to be protected, and that is protected by not violating rules of human decency. I am really glad to read others seem to have this point of view.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.6k
    I don't think censoring pornography will directly harm our democracy, but it seems to be a shot across its bow from a general censorship direction.

    Our newly acquired digital fora have largely replaced their old physical counterparts, or at least made them massively ineffectual by comparison, which is why I do see the regulation of digital forums to be democratically relevant (regulation ensuring free speech, and freedom from intentional deception).

    If everybody happens to be using a handful of particular sites, those sites can gain a large amount of political influence by controlling or manipulating the flow of information through their networks...

    Part of me wants to say that Facebook can do whatever they want with their own network, but another part wants to say that the greater health and good of our democratic system is at stake, therefore we must step in regulate on some level.

    We break up monopolies with anti-trust measures even though it's their property, and we regulate the media in some ways (it's not like breaching property rights is unthinkable). According to the FCC, the public owns the airwaves, and encoding information within them requires licensing and is subject to regulations (noise, decency, slander/libel laws, and political campaign related laws). The series of tubes that is the internet was not wholly constructed by the public, but it does ostensibly allow internet providers the privilege of installing and operating them along their roads, which implies that the body politic may have some degree of right to regulate their uses.

    With television and radio, we have reached a place where we allow broadcasters to make a profit but also demand they adhere to laws ensuring they don't cause damage us in the process (don't tell lies being the relevant gist).

    With Facebook in particular, as it is the most common medium in use for political communication (at least for the sake of argument), it can profit more than any other corporation from deceptive and manipulative practices - telling lies - and will directly harm our democratic, political, and economic outcomes in doing so. It is true that individuals can survive without using Facebook (I've never used it), but so long as it maintains its virtual monopoly we'll be left vulnerable to its insidious political curation as a whole.

    Of course, the answer is to just stop using Facebook, and if we could do so we would simply migrate to a new social medium which would grow into a monopoly as well (because the more people that use a social media, the more useful it becomes, and the more users it attracts). The next Facebook would have the same incentives to maximize clicks and monetize users/influence that the current one does, and we would be back to square one.

    Why shouln't Facebook be held accountable for feeding their users outright lies in the same ways we can hold a news organization accountable for telling lies? (especially in breach of laws meant to ensure campaign fairness)...

    P.S @Bitter Crank Regarding pornography, because it is neither politically important (correct me if I'm wrong), nor held in virtual or complete monopoly by any one online medium, it's not ethically meaningful to regulate against Trumblr's decision. However, if Tumblr was the only source of pornography in the world, you can bet the body politic would be up-and-armed about incorporating it as a federally protected utility!
  • Ciceronianus the White
    824
    We've always been uncomfortable with sex here in God's favorite country, preferring as we do to express our more primitive urges through the use of firearms and by watching professional wrestling or cage-matches and such. I didn't know other countries were growing repressive about sex, though.

    Still, the fear of sex outside of dark bedrooms, the back seats of cars and convenient hotel rooms which motivates this kind of repression is that of the denizens of private corporations in this case, so this isn't a free speech issue in the legal sense--which, as we all know, is the only truly important sense.
  • SophistiCat
    815
    I don't communicate via Facebook, but I wasn't writing about myself. That Facebook plays an outsize role on the Internet for just some "social media site" cannot be denied if you haven't been living in a cave for the last decade.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    @Hanover So, just how outsized is it?

    Share of population using Facebook
    North America 72.4%
    Latin America / Caribbean 57.3%
    Oceania / Australia 48.1%
    Europe 41.7%

    1 out of 7 people in the world uses Facebook.

    I do not use Facebook; I do not have a Facebook account. I don't have to have an account to recognize its importance.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    I do not believe it is good for society to make intimate behavior public. I also am not at all in favor of freedom of expression.Athena

    Goodness gracious; she's not in favor of freedom of expression! My psychoanalytic theory is that there is a connection between believing intimate behavior on view is bad for society and being against freedom of expression.
  • Athena
    294


    I don't know? The way you worded that sounds appealing to me. I think there are lines to be drawn, but I am not sure where those lines should be drawn. I think science might have something to say about the positive and negative effects of explicit sexual scenes. Clearly, some is called art and some is called pornography and perhaps the effect of these two is different? My concern is cheapening our humanness and playing to fantasies that are abusive, or believing hurtful acts are okay if that is what one wants to do. How art expressing intimacy can also bring out the best in us.

    As for limits on freedom of expression, I most certainly think civil people are ruled by reason and not their impulses. But Trump is not a good example of this.
  • Athena
    294


    My concern is that, in general, we have trashed human dignity and made everything meaningless. We have created anarchy and because anarchy becomes intolerable there is pressure to go to the other extreme of excessive control. When people are not self-controlled, the pressure to control them increases. Like a well-behaved dog does not need to be kept on a leash, but an untrained dog needs to be on a leash. What rules the individual, physical urges or the mind?
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    My concern is that, in general, we have trashed human dignity and made everything meaningless. We have created anarchyAthena

    Just curious what sorts of things you see as examples of the above?
  • Ciceronianus the White
    824
    What rules the individual, physical urges or the mind?Athena

    I doubt there's any significant difference between those annoying urges and "the mind" myself. We're a part of the world, and there is no separate part of us we call our "minds" which isn't. We can conduct ourselves reasonably, though. But it isn't clear to me that the fact people enjoy porn or have sexual fantasies has caused or will cause human dignity to be trashed, or render everything meaningless.
  • Athena
    294


    I don't think I want to get into an argument about how men think and how women think. I will just clarify I am a woman and we have fought for a couple of hundred years for respect. That fight has really heated up and the tension between men and woman right now is concerning. I am shocked by the number of men who have lost their careers because of something they said to a woman, or a touch. When women are so angry they will intentionally destroy a man's career, there is a problem.

    Exercising self-control is something that is learned and this is not as simple as knowing 10 steps for dealing with anger. Technological knowledge for managing anger does not equal the ability to do so. It takes repeated effort to change our thinking habits and responses. How one fantasizes about men or women or children or animals will probably influence how one reacts. To each his own said the lady as she kissed the cow. Just know our thinking habits influence our emotional responses, It can be really, really hard to get teenagers to focus on the school work, but those who do are likely to have better life choices than those who don't. When we make public decisions, we need to consider everyone, not just ourselves. However, what happens behind closed doors is private.
  • Athena
    294
    Just curious what sorts of things you see as examples of the above?Terrapin Station

    Whoo, that is an awfully big subject! Right now I am bothered by what looks sexual confusion to me. So many people don't appear to know what they are and what they want to be. I am not opposed to homosexuality but really, some men trying to be women won't succeed any more than I can pass as a teenager. I don't like being an old wrinkled person but I have to live with that, and some dark-skinned people may want to be white and that could lead to a lot of trouble. It is not just that trying to be what we are not, can be a problem for us, but also it can be a problem for those engage with us. Out of this comes pain, distrust, fear, and these lives can become unbearable to those lives them. :rofl: Looking 30 years younger would be a huge improvement in my self-image and ideas about what I can do with my life, but that ain't going to happen, so I look in the mirror and tell myself I look just the way a grandma should look. If I had magic wishes I would wish for everyone to be happy with who they are.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    Whoo, that is an awfully big subject! Right now I am bothered by what looks sexual confusion to me. So many people don't appear to know what they are and what they want to be. I am not opposed to homosexuality but really, some men trying to be women won't succeed any more than I can pass as a teenager. I don't like being an old wrinkled person but I have to live with that, and some dark-skinned people may want to be white and that could lead to a lot of trouble. It is not just that trying to be what we are not, can be a problem for us, but also it can be a problem for those engage with us. Out of this comes pain, distrust, fear, and these lives can become unbearable to those lives them. :rofl: Looking 30 years younger would be a huge improvement in my self-image and ideas about what I can do with my life, but that ain't going to happen, so I look in the mirror and tell myself I look just the way a grandma should look. If I had magic wishes I would wish for everyone to be happy with who they are.Athena

    Thanks for the response. I wouldn't personally call "sexual confusion" a problem re human dignity or call it anarchy, but I'm extremely libertarian/libertine--there's probably no one more extreme than I am in that regard. Absolutely anything that people want to do consensually, any way they want to express themselves, anything that amounts to existential authenticity for anyone, is cool with me.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    824

    In ancient Greece and Rome, sexual conduct was seemingly much more a matter of casual public discussion and display than it is now. I have more knowledge of ancient Rome and its empire than I do of ancient Greece before its conquest by Rome, and as far as Roman attitudes are concerned we have the example of what remains of Pompeii regarding the display of erotic images, including their use as good luck charms. Then there is the example of Diogenes the Dog in ancient Greece, who delighted in public masturbation. There were, of course, social taboos and restrictions, and abusive sex and the oppression of women. But it seems that they were far less inclined to feel that sex was in some way to be avoided or kept locked away than we are now--thanks in part, no doubt, to the cheerful influence of Pauline Christianity.

    And yet, to the extent we of the West employ and honor reason and self-discipline we do so because Greco-Roman philosophers and jurists developed them, considered them to be goods, and essential to living well. In fact, I doubt we know more of wisdom or right conduct than they did. We merely parrot what they had to say when we're not indulging in ennui orangst.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    We can, we do, and we ought to draw lines for ourselves, and for those for whom we are responsible. There is a lengthy list of things we do, and do not do, that we think are meet, right, and salutary or the opposite. Collectively, we have also drawn lines, visible in social mores, rules of etiquette, and the law. Most of the time our private and public line-drawing is more or less satisfactory.

    There are some very personal areas where the rules imposed on others by the collective or a fragment of the collective that are quite problematic. While I don't believe we should be killing leopards for their fur, I don't see a problem of wearing fox, mink, or other furs that are commercially produced. PETA, on the other hand, is adamantly opposed to meat eating, fur clothing of any kind, and the use of rats in research. I don't think PETA is entitled to decide if I can wear a fringe of coyote fur on my parka, or wear a nice leather vest.

    Vegans haven't become so militant yet that they are ready to free cows and chickens from captivity and throw pig shit at people who leave the supermarket with packages of eggs, milk, cheese, and meat. Earth Firsters are willing to drive spikes into trees to make it dangerous to cut down old-forests. Maybe all that will get out of hand tomorrow, but not quite yet.

    perhaps the effect of these two is different? My concern is cheapening our humanness and playing to fantasies that are abusive, or believing hurtful acts are okay if that is what one wants to do. How art expressing intimacy can also bring out the best in us.Athena

    Sure, the effect of pornography and art is different. That won't make the headlines tomorrow. But if porn isn't usually mistaken for art, art is mistaken for either porn or trash fairly often, and sometimes sex has nothing to do with it.

    Nobody I know has spoken out in favor of abusive sex acts. S&M or B&D are not something I am interested in, but some people are -- both the S and the M, the B and the D. I don't get it, but apparently a good time is had by all. Now, everybody agrees that subjecting an unwilling person to SMBD would be unambiguously wrong. A good many people would not interfere with SMBD, but definitely think that the participants might be at least somewhat screwed up.

    There is a wideness in our humanness, and both pornography and art highlight our essential natures, just as a ball park hot dog and haute cuisine both express discerning taste as well as blunt hunger. I'm not content looking at fine art and eating haute cuisine all the time. Sometimes a hotdog, or some porn is just the thing. There are plenty of clear social mores, rules of etiquette, and laws to protect people from real harm, and there are many situations (having nothing to do with sex) where it is very difficult to protect people from their own intentions. Sometimes you just have to hope they don't kill themselves in the process of pursuing whatever harebrained goal they are seeking.

    I just want there to be room for peoples' varied self-expression.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    Right now I am bothered by what looks sexual confusion to me. So many people don't appear to know what they are and what they want to be. I am not opposed to homosexuality but really, some men trying to be women won't succeed any more than I can pass as a teenager.Athena

    I have taken what I view as a down right retrograde position: Transsexuals are suffering from a delusion and gender reassignment specialists are collecting rent on their castles in the sky. I too would enjoy being in my prime again--fit, svelte, and with what was once a robust sex drive. Dream on, Crank -- it ain't going to happen no how.

    Granted, there are some people (a very small number) who really are born with ambiguous sexual organs, and some of those have abnormal genetic ambiguousness. Those are not the people driving the trans movement. Just because someone who is unambiguously male or female thinks they would like to be the opposite sex doesn't mean they can be or should be. I would like to be many different things. I would enjoy being the #1 star soprano at the Metropolitan Opera; I would like to be an eagle; I would like to be fluent in 10 languages; I would like to be a lady killer on the dance floor. I'd like to be a great long distance runner. These are just fantasies; pleasant, but not meriting fulfillment.

    If a few pioneers had not gone to great lengths to find a surgeon to reupholster themselves in the 1950s (i.e., Christine Jorgensen) I think very few men and women, or boys and girls, would be announcing that they were actually wrongly gendered. They'd just be masculine women, feminine men (but heterosexual) or they'd be gay or lesbian, or they'd be confused. So tough! There was nothing in the original contract guaranteeing that nobody would ever be confused!

    I'm quite sympathetic toward transsexuals, just as I am sympathetic, empathetic, towards people who have other kinds of mental problems. I've know a few quite well. I will acknowledge that they seem happier playing their opposite gender role. Are they the opposite gender? No, they are still the same gender, but wearing different clothes, doing their hair differently, and maybe using the toilet differently--most of which they could have done without claiming to have changed gender. Taking female or male hormones does not a man or a woman make. It's just deeper upholstery, and if stopped the process reverses.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    Song from the 1920s about gender ambiguity

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