Facebook Removes Risqué Photograph of Woman Showing an Elbow

Are photo-sharing website content policies based on indecency or the mere appearance of indecency? That’s what visual web magazine Theories of the deep understanding of things decided to test out yesterday. It uploaded an innocent — but seemingly risqué — photo of a woman sitting in a bathtub with her elbow resting on the edge (warning: it looks inappropriate). Lo and behold, the social network quickly took the photo down for violating the service’s terms.

The magazine writes,

So, here’s last night’s FB alertness test results: FB moderators can’t tell an elbow from a dangerous, filthy, uncanny and violent female breast. No questions were asked and the post is down. Imagine our surprise.

So for Facebook, the policy is based on subjective appearance rather than objective content, and the service won’t hesitate to permanently [see below] remove photographs that appear to violate its TOS. It’d be interesting to see similar tests conducted on other photo sharing services, just to see how they respond to the appearance of impropriety.

P.S. This story reminds us of this similar and humorous test that was done in real life rather than online:

Update: After this case was brought to Facebook’s attention, the company restored the photo and apologized to the owner.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Sam!

  • peaceetc

    Aw, I wanted to see the original so I could feed my elbow fetish.

  • Anne Marie Laney

    you can just click the link

  • e

    It is linked in the article,

  • peaceetc

    Oh, thank goodness. I feel so much better now.

  • Rich Garcia

    LOL if it were not an elbow it would have been a “monster boob” ! Really someone thought that was something other than a boob ?? Must be as blind as an NFL Referee!

  • Jack Framer

    Maybe their censors have never seen a naked women before and thought the elbow are her breasts ;-)

  • destroy_all_humans

    a sense of humor is a violation guys

  • kingofwoolworths

    to be fair ,it does look like a massive swollen bap.

  • Jim Goldstein

    This type of moderation is done by algorithm these days not by people. The algorithms used by Google, Facebook and others goes by skin tone detection. If the percentage of an image is take up by too many colors associated with bare skin then it can get flagged or moderated. This isn’t very surprising.

  • peaceetc

    You have to admit, those are some hot elbows.

  • peaceetc

    We’ve been worried about the thought police… I guess what we really should be worried about is the pixel police.

  • Jeff Reynolds

    An illustrator friend of mine recently tested FB by uploading several realistic paintings of nude women. So far only some of them have been removed. Generally there has to be a complaint filed, is that right?

  • Burnin Biomass

    They probably have to moderate millions of photos, I imagine they don’t dwell over each image too long. Quick glance, they look like breasts. Understandable.

  • shashinka

    I’dhave to agree, however if if it one person flying through hundreds of pix per hour in rapid succession I also can see how if one looked only for a brief second to could be seen this way. But, I think it was most likely automation.

  • 9inchnail

    I guess the Taliban found a new home in the FB headquarters. Good for them.

  • wickerprints

    I LOLed so hard when I saw this

  • studio 17b

    At a quick glance it looks as if she’s got a nipple on her elbow. Probably why it was removed – for violating Facebook’s T&C against fetishing mutants.

  • Foinikas

    all those photos with children and cancer, or others with girls with tight blouzes and close ups to their breasts doesnt bother fb?

  • BIll HIlly

    upload your photos to facebook and kiss their value goodbye

  • Jorge

    At first I thought that this didn’t look inappropriate at all, but then I saw the thumbnail and there it actually gives the impression than the woman on the picture has huge melons! Still, shouldn’t have been removed.

  • Vimiew

    So facebook will remove an indecent photo instantly, but if we want to remove an embarrassing photo, that will take months because its complicated?

  • junyo

    Getting robo-flagged is one thing. Getting robo-post nuked is another. If your algorithm isn’t 100% and you can’t be bothered to have a person review the potentially offending post before taking action, then maybe you shouldn’t be in the public image sharing business.

  • quickpick

    it’s a crazy crazy world today ran by a bunch of over sensitive nerds! though the extreme feminists and conservative islamists must be highly satisfied by this removal, LMAO!

  • onetippy

    Good job. I’ve seen some pictures that children shouldn’t see, keep deleting the bad stuff.





  • Borys Medicky

    Exactly. They’re spending way too much time at their computers and zero time meeting women.

  • Christian Biggins

    Breaks my heart that its impossible to lick your own elbows. :( That would have made an awesome vid.