Facebook Pulls Spinnaker Photo Suggesting Oral

Facebook pulled a larger version of the image you see to the left, from the page of the University of North Florida's student newspaper, Spinnaker.

Facebook pulled a larger version of the photo you see to the right, from the page of the University of North Florida’s student newspaper, Spinnaker.

The newspaper’s web editor, Ian Albahae, told a local NBC News affiliate that the cover story on the March 24 issue focused on a possible link between throat cancer and performing oral sex on someone infected with the human papillomavirus. Spinnaker’s Editor-in-Chief Josh Gore told NBC that the image depicts students UNF students and “was not pornography.”

We agree — that’s why we’ve posted the image. But we also understand why Facebook pulled the image, due to the type of legal advice given to websites seeking to avoid lawsuits over obscenity claims. Potential suits tend to come from conservative types, so attorneys recommend that any Internet business embrace the standards of the most conservative jurisdictions.

Facebook has been known to restore images originally pulled out of concern about courts’ overly loose definition of obscenity. It will be interesting to see whether the Spinnaker photo returns to the college newspaper’s page.

Readers, how can Facebook pre-empt these types of suits in a way that also avoids accusations of censorship?