Social media update, and contemplating a language change

I am happy to say I now have Facebook access back and no longer need to keep running to my husband’s office to use his account. Hopefully I can avoid further troubles with the platform but honestly I have my doubts. During my time away I encountered, and commiserated with, many people online who had been kicked off Facebook for no good reason, and sometimes no reason at all, and unless the platform makes major changes I think things are only going to get worse.

So posts on the Charley Project Facebook page have resumed as before. Need I also remind you the Charley Project is on Twitter?

I’m also happy to report that I’ve had no side effects from Thursday’s COVID-19 vaccine, other than a sore arm. It was very sore yesterday and much less so today. I also have a sniffly nose, but I’m pretty sure that’s just pollen.

Now on another topic: Occasionally I have adjusted the Charley Project’s vocabulary to fit with the times. For example, I stopped saying “confined to a wheelchair” after it came to my attention that, for people who cannot walk, a wheelchair is not a tool of confinement but liberation. Instead I started saying “uses a wheelchair” or “needs a wheelchair for mobility.” I also changed “committed suicide” to “died by suicide” because suicide is no longer a crime in most jurisdictions, and referring to the act as if it was still a crime contributes to the stigma against it and against people who die in this way, most of whom were suffering terribly.

Josh Duggar’s recent arrest (is anyone surprised? not me!) has got me thinking: I’ve seen a trend, in some publications, to replace the term “child pornography” with “child sexual abuse images.” I think it’s a good change. Adult pornography, whatever feelings you might have about it, is legal in most jurisdictions throughout the world, and participants are doing it voluntarily and are usually paid. Child pornography is obviously not legal and the participants are being exploited and abused, and the term “child sexual abuse images” reminds a person of what is going on in those pictures and videos and the crime that must be committed to produce them.

So I’m thinking of making the change myself, and changing all references of “child pornography” on the Charley Project to “child sexual abuse images” instead.

Thoughts, anyone?

23 thoughts on “Social media update, and contemplating a language change

  1. Dawn Marie May 1, 2021 / 9:35 am

    As a rule I’m in favor of using as few words as possible to get an idea across. “Child sexual abuse images” is a mouthful and an eyeful and normal people know what child pornography is and that whatever goes on in it is illegal and immoral. Not all adult porn is legal or consensual: suppose I put a camera in my neighbors’ bedroom and videoed them having sex and I shopped the video around online? That would still be called porn even I didn’t face charges for anything other than illegal wiretapping or invasion of privacy or something else.

    I’m not crazy about “died by suicide” either, mainly because all my English teachers told us not to use the passive voice. Not “The door was left open” is bad; “You left the door open” is good. And again, an extra word.

    • Meaghan May 1, 2021 / 9:38 am

      The passive voice isn’t as unacceptable as many people make it out to be. Example: missing persons posters (and the Charley Project) usually say “was last seen.” That’s often cause I don’t know exactly who saw them last and it may be completely irrelevant anyway.

    • Ashley May 5, 2021 / 2:01 pm

      Wow. I really disagree with this take. There are lots of phrases where people “know” what they really mean, but the phrasing still serves to desensitize the public from the truth. Headlines talking about how a Teacher seduced their student – the truth being that the adult abused the child. The point of more words isn’t to make things clumsy it’s to provide accuracy and truthfulness.

      Your argument using adult porn is really weird, tbh. Clearly no child porn is consensual ever. While adult porn could be criminal, it’s generally stated that when it is – i.e. revenge porn.

      Also, passive voice is fine, There is a bias against it in school curiciulum, but it’s fine to use – particularly in non-business/scientific writing.

      Child abuse images, images of child abuse…I’m all for more words and more accuracy. Call it exactly what it is.

    • ANGELA SMITH May 19, 2021 / 8:49 pm

      Thank you for your work. I do have a suggestion regarding language. I notice you will refer to Jane Doe, a Black woman but not John Doe a white man. You seem to indicate race only if it is other than white.

      • Meaghan May 19, 2021 / 9:30 pm

        That is actually done deliberately; some people are looking specifically for info on missing persons of color and I want my blog entries to pop up when they keyword search for “missing black woman” or whatever.

  2. laurenthian May 1, 2021 / 11:43 am

    I agree with your motivations, but “child sexual abuse images” does sound awkward. “Images/Depictions of child sexual abuse” is slightly better. If legal charges have been filed, what about using the language of the statute? That’s both specific and (generally) acceptable.

    • Katie May 1, 2021 / 9:50 pm

      I think this is a great idea! No matter how awkward it sounds or reads, it accurately describes that these are images/media of the horrific abuse of children — not consensual personal images they chose to share.

      As well, the IBPL and fundamentalist Baptist churches that people like the Duggar family belong to actively downplay the severity of sexual abuse within their communities. They’re able to play it off as “just porn” or “just a minor sexual sin.” The rest of the world calling it what is — child sexual abuse and images of child sexual abuse — will hopefully make it harder for them to ignore it.

      Thank you so much for considering this change! You are always so considerate in the way you approach people and I really appreciate it.

      • Katie May 1, 2021 / 10:10 pm

        I accidentally replied to this comment instead of the regular post — I’m so sorry!

  3. M86 May 1, 2021 / 9:23 pm

    I’m all in favor for that.
    Also, kind of random, but I notice that you undercase cardinal directions in street names. Typically, those are uppercase.
    That’s my grammar/copy editing mind going wild. 🙂
    Thanks for all you do!

  4. J May 1, 2021 / 9:24 pm

    My opinion is everyone is overthinking this. I agree with Meaghan’s wording. It gets the point across.

  5. Barbara Claire May 1, 2021 / 10:37 pm

    I think the change you’re contemplating is a good one as it realistically depicts what happened.

  6. Christie May 2, 2021 / 8:45 am

    I believe the correct terminology for died by suicide is that the person completed suicide

      • missingmysteries May 10, 2021 / 2:14 am

        The worst is when the ME or investigators say (and I’ve heard it on a few true crime shows on Oxygen or ID) that the cause of death is suicide (or homicide, or accident).

        …And if an ME says that, I no longer trust anything he/she has to say. (For those unsure of my point, CAUSE of death is particular and is meant to explain what exact thing causes the death of a person; MANNER of death is used to explain whether the death is an accident, suicide, or murder.

        As an example, a person dies from a GSW to the head…CAUSE of death is GSW to the head, but MANNER of death could be suicide, accident, or homicide…so,if, for example, a woman is killed by a GSW to the head, the medical examiner would note that the CAUSE of death was a GSW to the head, but might also find that the MANNER of death was homicide, if the ME and investigators found evidence that this victim didn’t shoot them selves. Cause describes HOW the person died; MANNER describes whether the cause of death was accidental, homicidal, or suicidal.

      • Meaghan May 10, 2021 / 6:29 am

        I know sometimes news reports don’t like to say exactly how the person died, if it was suicide, because suicide can be contagious. Other people do it too after reading the reports of the previous death, and for some reason it’s worse if they find out the method as well.

  7. Sonya May 2, 2021 / 11:37 am

    I agree with replacing child pornography with child sexual abuse images. I think it is much better fitting.
    Congratulations on getting your Facebook account back. 🙂

  8. Justin May 4, 2021 / 9:14 am

    How did you get your Facebook account back? Did they send you a notice or did you wake up one day and your access was back?

    • Meaghan May 4, 2021 / 9:15 am

      Michael found out it was back when he was on Facebook Messenger one day and suddenly realized it was possible for him to send me messages again. Then he called me from work and told me.

  9. Ori May 5, 2021 / 5:06 am

    I think these are good changes, and I’ll use the opportunity to advocate for another change (admittedly one that is not purely semantic): stop citing polygraph results. They are debunked, junk science.

  10. Cid May 5, 2021 / 9:09 pm

    I think writing child sexual abuse images is absolutely the right wording.
    I’m so pleased to see your access has been restored, and for a successful first vaccination.

  11. missingmysteries May 10, 2021 / 1:37 am

    It’s possible that someone using the advanced search function on Charley might use “child pornography” in the “details of disappearance” section if they’re looking for that phrase in relation to a case.

    So if you removed the “pornography” term, they’d be unable to get the results. I understand fully why you’re considering changing your verbiage; and I also think about the purpose that Charley Project has. I think the best verbiage is whatever best helps people to find a lost person. And for that reason, I think the original terminology should stand, as it is what most searchers will use. Maybe you can call it both, with “child pornography” in quotes or parentheses.

    As to the other terms, the word “wheelchair”exists in both so I’d say it’s okay, as it will show up in a search either way?

    • Meaghan May 16, 2021 / 5:38 pm

      I actually took that into account and it wasn’t a problem. I say a person is charged with possession of child pornography, since I did want it to show up in keyword searches and also I think that’s actually the language of the statute, and there on after in the summary I use the term “child sexual abuse images”.

  12. Lukrecija May 11, 2021 / 9:02 am

    I was banned from Facebook for a month u der pretense of “nudity” , because in a forum about cultural context in fashion, I published a photograph of Zulu women in a traditional dress participating in public celebration. As some of their dresses leave their breasts pretty much visible – that is nudity or pornography in Facebook bots’ eyes.
    Instead of Facebook restricting my account fot “nudity” they should be fined for cultural discrimination and racism. My 2 cents

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