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"Check Your Package': Public information about cancer too racy for Facebook!

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Message Dominique Lord

This article was cross-posted at Open Salon.

The Toronto Public Health Department (in Canada) recently started a media campaign and public service announcement aimed at young men to encourage them to conduct self-exams in order to detect possible early signs of testicular cancer. This type of cancer is the most common for young men below the age of 35, and is gaining ground just like breast cancer. Lance Armstrong is a good example of someone who was stricken by this disease at the age of 25.

The public service announcement had the tag line of 'Check Your Package', and shows the (clothed) midsection of a man and has a few words describing the benefits of self-examination. The ad emphasizes that early detection can provide a 95% survivability rate. You can see the picture for yourself below.

Picture taken from the Toronto Star

Given the target group and the amount of exposure (more than 500 million people), the Toronto Public Health Department decided to buy advertisement space on Facebook.

But Facebook rejected the ad. Apparently, the picture of a guy from the bellybutton down wearing boxer briefs is far too explicit for the delicate sensibilities of Facebook members. In addition, because the public service message emphasized the need for men under 35 to make sure they don't die of testicular cancer, Facebook said it discriminated against older people.

Quoting from the recent Toronto Star article, "The image must not focus on a specific body part, particularly a man's crotch" and the "Check Your Package" headline was "unacceptable," the email reads. Facebook also objected to the words "Men 18-35 are at risk" as being "threatening to the user and we don't allow age callouts under any circumstance.""

So, if we're to understand this correctly, Facebook would rather let their male users be oblivious to their risk for cancer rather than 'discriminate' against an age group who don't have to worry about that kind of cancer as much. Yeah, makes a whole lot of sense to me, too.

As for Facebook's problem with the picture's focus being on a specific body part ('particularly a man's crotch'--does that mean a woman's crotch is more acceptable?), are they unaware of the tons of racy pictures of young men and women that are uploaded by users on a daily basis?

What's even weirder (and by 'weirder', I mean 'insane') is that Facebook already has pages completely devoted to the male midsection, not to mention the parts below:

The Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers

(Taken from the Facebook's Page devoted to this album)

Mà tley Crà e's Too Fast for Love

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Dominique is an Associate Professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. His research work aims at reducing the negative effects associated with motor vehicle crashes. When he's not developing mathematical and (more...)
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