Yesterday I received an e-mail from Pinterest telling me that they had removed a pin from my Couples Boudoir board because it was deemed “inappropriate” for the general public. They did not tell me which pin it was, but attempted to clue me in by writing that the caption was ‘ . ‘ This didn’t exactly jog my memory, especially considering I have over 100 pins on that board.
They then asked me to review their “acceptable use” policy, which states that “some nudity is okay for Pinterest, some isn’t.” Well, that helps.
So what is “okay” nudity? Pinterest says it’s “artistic, scientific or educational nude photographs…but we don’t allow those (like photographs of sexual activity) that could be a bad experience for people who accidentally find them.”
Could this explanation possibly be more subjective? What kinds of “people” are we talking about? Photographers? Artists? Fundamentalist Christians? Mommy Bloggers?
To muddy the waters even further, Pinterest says that posting this infamous full-frontal nude image of John Lennon and Yoko Ono won’t be a “bad experience for anyone”. But how do they know that? Anyone who’s offended by sexual images theoretically could be freaked out, since the photo leaves nothing to the imagination and suggests that John and Yoko might have just had actual sex!!
If all this weren’t confusing enough, Pinterest also implored me to “please delete any other Pins that go against our policies.”
Sure. Those opaque policies that make absolutely no sense, especially given that the Pinterest Team didn’t even show me which pin they’d removed. So I clicked onto my Couples Boudoir board and looked at the photos. While none of them show exposed genitals, most of the photos are provocative and some simulate sex acts. Yet all of them are artistic and aesthetically-pleasing. I still have no idea which pin they removed, but, given their prudishness, I also have no idea why they didn’t take down the whole damn board.
Which brings me to the larger issue of censorship in the context of social media. This summer, Facebook lifted its ban on exposed nipples of breastfeeding mothers but NOT on artistic displays of female nipples. Which means that I can’t use this photo in any post that I show on Facebook because you can see the outer edge of my left nipple:
Being on nipple high alert bums me out, not because I’m obsessed with nipples, but because it eliminates the posting of so many images that gratify one’s aesthetic sensibilities. When I look at this photo, I don’t really see myself. I see the female form showcased by a compelling pose, good lighting, and a fantastic strand of faux pearls. And while I admit it’s an erotic photo, anyone who truly wants to get their rocks off would be better served by surfing porn sites.
But back to this notion of people being traumatized if they catch sight of an “inappropriate” photo — are Pinterest and Facebook really the best arbiters of this decision? I, for one, cannot get enough photos of cats, as you can see if you visit my Obligatory Cat Board. But if I glimpse one more photo of someone’s dinner or bathroom grout, I could conceivably have a “bad experience.”
So what social media playgrounds exist for the sex-positives and aesthetes among us? You can post just about anything on Tumblr, but I’ve found it to be somewhat unsatisfying and solipsistic; the forum doesn’t invite genuine conversation. I’ve just joined Ello, an upstart Facebook rival still in its beta testing phase because they seem to champion transparency over ad space and censorship. Ello also appears to be seeking a more progressive, cutting-edge crowd — folks who like a little highbrow impropriety.
I now have a banner on my Pinterest profile reminding me that I “may” have posted inappropriate content, which is kind of like being put on social media probation. Yet, after reviewing their policies and looking at all the photos that haven’t been taken down, I still have no idea what they think constitutes a “bad experience.” Because I depend on Pinterest for blog promotion, I certainly won’t be pinning this post.
But if anyone wants to pin it and see what happens, that might make a fun experiment.