This Spongebob meme is banned on Facebook for “hate speech”

Facebook's upload filter is automatically punishing Facebook users for uploading a harmless Spongebob Squarepants meme.

Stay informed on privacy and free speech rights

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, subscribe to Reclaim The Net.

Facebook’s algorithmic upload filters are again blocking content – and banning users – on dubious, sometimes absurd grounds, just as critics have been warning all along.

The controversy surrounding Facebook’s use of the technology goes beyond just censorship, though. During the recent heated debate around EU’s Copyright Directive, the company’s public stance was against the legislation, that mandates, among other things, precisely the use of automatic upload filters to remove offending content.

But as early as 2016, and behind the scenes, Facebook informed the EU that it was already using filters and had nothing against continuing the practice.

And while the EU is attempting to “kill” memes and a variety of other creative content – and possibly the internet – in order to fight against copyright infringement, Facebook is casting its net wide to cover also “hate speech, bullying, and terrorism.” So the problem with Facebook continues to be duplicitous behavior and disregard for its users.

The problem with machines, meanwhile, is that they don’t have a sense of humor and cannot differentiate between a joke and hate speech. Algorithms are shaping up to be an unacceptably blunt weapon when used for this purpose, resulting in unfair blocking and bans.

A new example has been documented on Twitter by user Mack [_Kenziepuff] who posted a Spongebob meme on Facebook that read, “Men are trash/Women are equal to men” – only to be banned from the platform for a week for “hate speech.”

source: @_kenziepuff

This left some Twitter commenters scratching their heads over who the target of this example of “hate speech” was supposed to be.

“A meme and immediately banned for a week… what’s the point of using that website?,” wondered Mack, adding that other Facebook users informed her they had also been banned for uploading the same image – leading to the conclusion that automatic filtering was at work.

One of the commenters in the thread said they got banned from Facebook for posting a picture of a page from the book “The Shinar Directive,” reading, “Unfinished Work of Nimrod: The Capturing of Mankind.” Presumably more hate speech, according to Facebook.

Another said that they got banned by the social media giant for sharing “a picture of a snowman with beer flights as arms, and a beer tap for its nose.”

Stay informed on privacy and free speech rights

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, subscribe to Reclaim The Net.

What’s your email address?


Get news, solutions, tools, and analysis to push back against censorship and privacy invasion.