It’s fairly common for Facebook to remove posts and images that violate its terms of service.  Copyright violations are a no-no, and so are blatant expressions of racism. But it’s hard to say what got an image posted by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer removed.

At the center of the controversy was a political image featuring Brewer, which was critical of the President’s “backdoor amnesty” program for undocumented immigrants that slowed down the deportation of “illegals.” Brewer, long an advocate of harsher immigration rules, posted, “Obama’s backdoor amnesty plan violates American standards of following the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution.”

But a picture is worth a thousand words, and Brewer’s sentiments were represented by a portrait of one of the most iconic images in American history. During World War II, Rosie the Riveter told American women “We can do it!” to promote the idea that women could work in the factories, while men served on the front. In this iteration of the classic J. Howard Miller poster, Rosie’s face was replaced by Brewer’s, and the message read, “Arizona: Doing the job that the Feds won’t do.”

The image had more than 10,000 likes when Facebook removed it, ostensibly for violating its terms of service—though it did not specify exactly which term was violated. Soon afterward, the image was reinstated and Facebook’s Manager of Public Policy Andrew Noyes made a statement that, “The post was removed in error. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Why was the post removed? It certainly doesn’t fall under the category of phishing or spam; it was not graphically violent, and the very idea of either Brewer or that iconic image being identified with sex and nudity is ludicrous. According to Wikipedia, the work is in the public domain so there was no copyright infringement on its reproduction either in whole or in a modified form. There was no implicit hate speech, and it was hardly harassing, bullying or threatening the federal government.

On the other hand, the very question as to why it was removed should be anathema to Brewer’s libertarian-leaning supporters. Facebook is, after all, a private company and not a public utility. Senator Rand Paul, for example, is on record saying that “(p)rivate individuals and businesses should have the right to discriminate, even if it is abhorrent.” While he was talking about the Civil Rights Act, he could just have easily been talking about a political message or even discrimination because of font preferences. And there is no question that Facebook, which has not even released an IPO yet, is a private business—not a public platform.

Regardless, Facebook has reinstated the image and even issued an apology. Inevitably, certain pundits will be critical of Facebook’s decision. What they should be asking themselves is whether that opposition concurs with their larger world view.

Read More at NBC Bay Area
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