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Swedish Cancer Society squares off with Facebook censorship

Swedish Cancer Society squares off with Facebook censorship

It’s a friendly, helpful, and potentially life-saving video using simplified human shapes. What could possibly go wrong?

According to The Guardian, Facebook took the video down from the Swedish Cancer Society (Cancerfonden)’s page, citing community guidelines for “offensive” content.

I have to give the charity credit for their response, in the form of an open letter to Facebook offering to redo the video with a less offensive icon for breasts: two pink squares.


Cancerfonden wrote (in Swedish):

Hey Facebook,

We did not mean to offend with our Breast School video. We understand that you have to have rules about the content published on your platform. But you must also understand that one of our main tasks is to disseminate important information about cancer – in this case breast cancer.

On Wednesday, Facebook shut down the Cancer Society’s post,  “Get to know your breasts.”

After reaching out to you for several days without success, we have now come up with a solution that will hopefully make you happy:  Two pink squares!
This can not possibly offend. Now we can continue to spread our important Breast School video without it hurting your eyes.

We will never abandon our vision – to defeat cancer.

Facebook subsequently apologized, and sent a statement in English to The Guardian:

“We’re very sorry, our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads. This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologize for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ads.”

Honestly, with almost 18 billion USD in annual revenue, I can’t understand why Facebook won’t review its policies, hire more human moderators, and train and pay them decently.

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more