NOOSA – A couple of months ago I ran a piece, ‘Racist’ Facebook doesn’t get the picture, which told how Facebook had blocked a wonderful site, ‘Taim Bipo, Photo History, PNG, Papua & New Guinea’, devoted to safeguarding the photographic heritage of this most photogenic country.
The reason it had blocked the site was because some of the images it showed were of breasts and, for all I know, nipples and penis gourds.
Now Facebook – not known for its morality or its scruples - has again imposed the block and also apparently deleted around 20,000 photos that had been posted by many of the group’s more than 60,000 members.
These people had developed an important and rare historical resource for many people around the world, none more important than Papua New Guineans themselves for whom the site provided a notable archive of a society that existed not so long ago but has now been left behind.
Facebook had done the same thing several years ago when a group bearing a similar name lost its site and tens of thousands of photos.
Peter Kranz, the former Director of Information Resources at the University of PNG, who now lives in Morisset, NSW, has taken up cudgels on behalf of the site in the hope that pressure can be brought to bear on Facebook to reinstate what is not pornography but history and ethnography.
There’s a difference, a big difference.
Peter thinks the most recent block may relate to a video of traditional dancing from a 1970s cultural festival in Port Moresby which contained nothing offensive.
The women dancers’ breasts had even been pre-emptively blacked out so as not to breach Facebook’s so-called “community standards”.
“This is intolerable and is yet another example of Facebook’s heavy-handed and discriminatory treatment of significant cultural images from such a vital and important culture as Papua New Guinea,” Peter has written to The Guardian newspaper.
“Please can you investigate this, as I know you have covered this in the past and shown up Facebook’s double-standards and hypocrisy which many people see as ingrained racism.”
Let’s hope that Facebook can show some maturity and cultural understanding and reinstate the site, its valuable images and stop imposing its unhealthy world view on the beauty of the world’s human and cultural heritage.