25-May-2010

Dearest Facebook!

(Above) For Lee Harvey, Margate
The Pansy Project is an ongoing artwork; I plant pansies where homophobic abuse is experienced, photograph the location of the pansy then entitle the picture of the flower after the abuse received. What began as an autobiographical response to homophobia has developed over five years into an international project with thousands of pansies being planted in mutlitple locations across the world in a variety of contexts from single unsanctioned plantings to large scale installations created for festivals and exhibition, the latest incarnation of the project is the forthcoming RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in July 2010. Last Friday I received the following e-mail from Facebook! "The group "The Pansy Project" has been removed because it violated our Terms of Use. Among other things, groups that are hateful, threatening, or obscene are not allowed. We also take down groups that attack an individual or group, or advertise a product or service. Continued misuse of Facebook's features could result in your account being disabled" When I posted this information on my Facebook status I received a huge response from many Facebook friends with offers to set-up a group demanding the group be re-instated this was kindly initiated by a Pansy Project supporter (Bring Back The Pansy Project NOW). The group grew quickly with many old and new friends of The Pansy Project expressing their dismay and confusion at Facebook's misinterpretation of the motivations of this work. I attempted to e-mail Facebook without response, so I am left to speculate on the reasons for the deletion of the group. Despite many members of the new group suggesting that Facebook had been motivated by homophobia, I remain optimistic, I can only imagine that the images posted within my group entitled after the abuse received where flagged-up by a computer program designed to note obscene language; language so regularly used during verbal and physical attacks on gay people; the language I use within my work to point out the veracity of experience many confront on a regular basis. The Pansy Project group existed for over three years and had amassed over three thousand members from across the world and enabled me to easily contact those interested in my work with news of forthcoming projects and activities. Despite the inconvenience and loss of information I should if this is the case thank Facebook for their intolerance of homophobic language whatever the context. However it is extremely regrettable that the many messages of support and stories from those that experienced abuse may have been lost in the ether, though I hope the new group may continue to grow and enable future discussion regarding the peculiar nature of homophobia but given this conclusion I will not post images with the most offensive of titles within the new group to avoid future transgressions of Facebook's 'Terms of Use'. Despite this compromise of the work I feel it is important to continue to enable debate supplied by Facebook's unique ability to allow protest, support and conversation for those of us that remain utterly perplexed by homophobia in all its forms. I'd like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of those that posted information regarding my project on their own pages on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, the new group has reached nearly a thousand members in a matter of days, so this organisational misunderstanding may have introduced The Pansy Project and it's message of resistance to new audiences and for this I am thankful. I continue to await news from Facebook. Kind Regards Paul Harfleet.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:53 pm

    Fabulous! The world needs more people prepared to face their fear. Queers and Queer bashers alike.

    ReplyDelete
  2. great shame and a great article, but I agree with your sentiments about it being a positive thing that facebook responded to homophobic language.

    ReplyDelete