Those sensitive souls from Facebook have been at it again.
This time, they’ve banned an Australian art dealer from publishing images of 19th century paintings of bare-breasted Aboriginal women as part of a promotion for an upcoming sale because it “contains nudity”. The art dealer (who on earth sells fine art on Facebook?) was understandably annoyed and it made a good silly season story in this morning’s paper.
Of course, you could argue that if the paintings were made by European artists (the story doesn’t say), they were originally intended as pornography dressed up as ethnography. You’re right – Facebook isn’t that sophisticated. Or is it?
My original take on this story was that
“Facebook’s inability to distinguish benign nudity, whether in art or life (as in the case of breastfeeding) from sexually explicit material continues to make them look ridiculous.
But try objecting to a nasty physical threat and you just get told that you can block the offending poster or even “remove them altogether from your Facebook experience”.
Facebook needs to grow up and accept its responsibilities. They could start by providing objection options for things like ‘this post contains sexually explicit images’, ‘this post is threatening’, ‘this post shows someone being killed.’
Having published an opinion, I then committed the unforgivable journalistic sin of checking the facts.
The facts, on nudity at any rate, are that Facebook “allow[s] photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures.” but “restrict[s] the display of nudity because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content – particularly because of their cultural background …”. They also allow images of breastfeeding – or say that they do
So Facebook may, at worst, be guilty of not applying their own standards or, at best , applying a defensible degree of cultural sensitivity.
Just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe all you read in the papers – even if it does feed into you most basic prejudices – perhaps especially if it feeds into your most basic prejudices.