Matador. Cartoons that don't make platforms laugh.

Matador. Cartoons that don't make platforms laugh.
Twitter and Instagram
Hate Speech
Content Moderation

In early April, Colombian cartoonist Matador suffered a spate of sanctions on Instagram and Twitter. For different content, he received sanctions for violating the hate policies of both platforms.

On Twitter, Matador published a cartoon by a colleague of his, Mico, in which vice-presidential candidate Francia Márquez appeared on top of the Empire State Building, from where she rejected airplanes with words such as racism, misogyny or classism (for the sake of illustration, the image can be seen here). The cartoon alluded to a controversy that had occurred the previous week in the same social network, when singer Marbelle called Marquez King Kong.

Twitter' s policies prohibit offensive insults or stereotypes of the Afro population, including comparisons to animals. A publication such as Marbelle's would clearly violate the policies. However, in the case of Matador the infraction is not so obvious, since it was not a direct characterization of Francia Márquez as King Kong. Beyond the fact that someone might find it in bad taste, it was a reference intended to be critical of the act of discrimination.

A few hours later, Twitter sanctioned Matador's publication with the cartoon of Mico. As happens in these cases, the platform offered him two options: delete the tweet or file an appeal. He chose the latter, but the decision stood, the tweet was deleted and his account was blocked for a few hours.

Instagram says no to a satirical survey

The second sanction for Matador came just a day after his Twitter problem. On Sunday, April 3, the cartoonist made a poll about presidential candidates in his Instagram stories. Instead of putting the full names of each one, he associated them with a nickname that in some way or another was related to them, always in a humorous way: "Ingrid maquinarias", "La ballena Fajardo", "Fico el de los Crocs" and "Petroski Aguardientoski".

Instagram was not amused by the post. The story had already reached nearly 80,000 interactions when the platform notified Matador that his content had been "removed for hate speech or symbols." An evaluation of the content that is disproportionate.

On more than one occasion the Oversight Board, the body that functions as Meta's Supreme Court, has recommended that the company explain to its users the precise rule they are breaking, beyond stating the policy under which a sanction is based. For example, if Matador's story violates the hate speech policy, Meta should justify in more detail: whether it is an offensive comparison, a disparaging expression or an insult, to name three kinds of content prohibited under that rule. On the contrary, Matador received a very general explanation, which does not allow us to understand what could have motivated the sanction. 

Beyond the justification in this case, this rule -like others in Meta- has a satire exception. This means that content that may have some elements that the company considers as hate is allowed, as long as its intention is to make fun of someone or something.

The cartoonist would have been able to argue this exception in the event of an appeal. However, Instagram did not offer him this option and simply removed the story. In contrast, when he posted the results of that poll on Twitter, Matador did not receive any kind of sanction.

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