Facebook Apologizes for Muzzling Fitness Fanatic

Dennis Faas's picture

A fitness trainer says she was banned from Facebook after criticizing a plus-sized lingerie firm's marketing campaign. The news has reawakened the debate about Facebook's attempt to regulate what it deems offensive content.

Maria Kang is no stranger to controversy. In October she published a photograph of herself in a sports-style bikini, showing off a lean and toned body. The picture also showed her three young children, the oldest of whom is just three.

Kang captioned the picture with the line "What's your excuse?" It was meant to be a dig at mothers who aren't in such athletic shape. Unsurprisingly, the image and the caption elicited negative criticism.

Controversy Over Plus-Size "Selfies"

More recently, Kang took exception to a campaign by lingerie firm 'Curvy Girl', which caters to full-figured customers. The company encouraged its customers to send in selfies of themselves wearing its underwear, something it said would promote body confidence.

After seeing news stories about the campaign, Kang took to Facebook where she discussed public health problems associated with being overweight. She also discussed various childhood obesity issues.

The post did not directly attack any of the women who took part in the Curvy Girl campaign. Specifically, Kang said "I'm not bashing those who are proud and overweight, I am empowering those who are proud and healthy to come out and be the real role models in our society." (Source: mariakang.com)

According to Kang, the post was shared 2,000 times and "liked" by 10,000 people in the four hours after it went live. However, Facebook then deleted the post and temporarily blocked Kang from the site for breaching the site's community standard: she was told the block would last 12 hours but was actually reinstated after two days.

Although it's not mentioned in the screenshot on Kang's sites, several reports say Facebook's note to her cited "hate speech".

Facebook Says Removal Was Error

"A user reported content on her page, and it was mistakenly removed by Facebook," the social network said in a recent statement. "When we realized the error we corrected it immediately, and restored full access to Ms Kang. We apologize for the inconvenience."

Facebook also says Kang will be allowed to re-post the original comments, though Kang believes Facebook should have to revive the post. An angry Kang also said she felt her "freedom of speech was removed."

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