On Tuesday, Liz Boltz Ranfeld, a writer and English professor, stumbled across a now-deleted page for the red light district of Sonagachi in Kolkata, India, while working on a series of posts about her recent volunteer work there. Shocked to find a “community” page that openly promoted prostitution, had graphic photographs of prostitutes engaged in sexual acts, and included some photos of women that appeared to be underaged, she sent a message to a small group of friends in order to ask them to report the site. Slay Belle, who is an editor and author forPersephone Magazine (where Liz is also a contributor) and a contributor for Jezebel’s Powder Room, suggested bringing the page to the attention of a larger group of mutual friends and acquaintances.
Within a few hours, everyone who had reported the Facebook page received the same message from a Facebook staffer or robot called Viki. The message explained that Facebook could not verify that the Sonagachi community page violated the site’s community standards. No one who received this message could believe what they were reading. If pictures that showed a prostitute performing a blow job didn’t violate Facebook’s TOS, what did?