Earlier this week, Facebook found itself embroiled in controversy when a fairly benign photo of gay men kissing was labeled by the site as “abusive material” and deleted from local author Richard Metzger’s profile. The story broke an Metzger’s website Dangerous Minds, and was covered by media institutions around the world, many of whom reported that Facebook officials had issued an apology for deleting the photo.
And that last bit, according to Metzger, is total bunk. Metzger and Niall O’Conghaile, the individuals whose photo was censored and who originally reported on the incident, have not received word one from Facebook.
In fact, the only actual evidence of an apology from Facebook that Metzger has been able to find anywhere is in the comments section of the Dangerous Minds blog:
A comment on a blog post isn’t exactly an official statement, even if it did come from Facebook, and who knows? Anyone could have written that comment.
And yet, major media outlets such as AOL, Huffington Post, Gawker, The Advocate, and Yahoo! News have reported on this “official statement” as fact.
An exasperated Metzger writes:
I used to work at the Los Angeles Times and believe me when I tell you that 99% of the articles I have read about this matter would never have gotten past the copy desk there. This was ONLY shoddy reporting and nothing but shoddy reporting. Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper was the very worst of all. That “reporter” got almost every single major fact WRONG. And that that article got rewritten by even lesser news sources all over the Internet.
Sadly, re-reporting errors seems to be the new online media model.
We’ve contacted Facebook to ask if they have in fact released an official statement on the photo controversy. We’ll let you know if and when we hear back.