Facebook's nipple patrol strikes again

Now, I know what I’m thinking about on a Monday morning. Is there anything creepier than a doll? And I say no, nothing is creepier than a doll. Dark alleyways, a creak on the stairs, men with moustaches but not beards, and even clowns pale in the creepiness stakes next to a doll. You find me a doll that doesn’t look like it’s plotting to kill me and I’ll buy you a drink. A long way from the freaking doll, so at least I have a chance of hearing it coming after me.

And even though dolls are the objective measure of all that is evil in the world (remember Robert Shaw in Jaws, explaining that the shark has “a doll’s eyes”?), most of us co-exist with them peacefully. Sure, I’d like them to be outlawed, in that ideal world where I finally fulfil my natural ambition to be a kindly despot, but I’ve learned to live with my limitations in this less-than-ideal world.

But Facebook, luckily for those of us who like to write about this kind of thing, shows no such compunction. Over the weekend, they sent a series of warnings to Victoria Buckley, a jeweller in Sydney. She, for reasons best known to herself, displays her jewellery on highly collectable, extremely expensive, absolutely vile porcelain dolls. They have articulated metal joints, polished nails and realistic nipples (there, right there, is the epitome of why dolls are foul. Realistic tits but metal-jointed arms and legs. Jesus).

The warnings apparently state that Facebook will remove the ‘inappropriate content’, and that Buckley will be banned from the site if she reposts them. Banned, let’s all remind ourselves, for showing pictures of a doll’s knockers, over which literally no-one would ever masturbate, apart from the character Julian Sands plays in Boxing Helena. This is in keeping with Facebook’s stern anti-tits message, which has even led to a heroic ban on images of a mastectomy. Ah, Facebook. Is it time you went to a dictionary – even an online one – and worked out that pretty much the defining feature of a mastectomy is its comparative lack of tits? I think perhaps it is.

But then, if you fear the breasts of a doll – more than you fear its killing eyes – you’re impossible to reason with anyway. Are they scared of the plush fur of a soft toy lion at Facebook HQ in case it’s hiding some cat-nipples? Do they check the trouser bulge of Action Men, just to check nothing smutty is going on? Or is it just boobs that give them the heebs? Enquiring minds need to know their detailed policy on artificial tits. Surely stag nights and rugby victory celebrations are full of men wearing big plastic knockers – are those banned too?

Victoria Buckley has sensibly gone public with the story, which should generate enough free publicity to counter the fact that she can’t use her doll pics to publicise her work on Facebook anymore.  But far more than it focuses our attention on her jewellery, this once again shows Facebook on the back foot (unless those are also banned) when it comes to moral issues. What is deeply shocking in America (breasts anywhere where anyone can see them – eg the Superbowl) is commonplace elsewhere (our tabloids, Australia in general). Facebook needs to decide if it is really comfortable with — or capable of — being our moral guardians.