Facebook Faces Backlash for Censorship, Again!

Beginning 2017 with a bang, Facebook has come under public criticism again due to their community censorship policy which has now also prohibited a Renaissance-era sculpture — such as the statue of Neptune, an iconic figure in the heart of Bologna, Italy.

Domani | Shutterstock
Domani | Shutterstock

The sixteenth-century sculpture, built by Jean de Boulogne — also known as Giambologna — overlooks the Piazza del Nettuno in the heart of the Italian City.

A local writer from the city, Elisa Barbari, chose to put up an image of the iconic statue as the cover of her Facebook page but when she tried to promote it, Facebook denied her permission.

“I wanted to sponsor my page, but apparently for Facebook, the photo of our Neptune is sexually explicit,” Elisa Barbari wrote. She also put up an image which reads ‘No censorship for Neptune’.

Facebook denied the Bologna-based writer to put up the statue of Sea God Neptune holding a trident, which has also been adopted by popular car maker Maserati as their own insignia.

The social media giant stated, “The use of the image was not approved because it violates Facebook’s guidelines on advertising. It presents an image with content that is explicitly sexual and which shows to an excessive degree the body, concentrating unnecessarily on body parts.”

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“The use of images or video of nude bodies or plunging necklines is not allowed, even if the use is for artistic or education reasons,” Facebook added.

In 2016, Facebook bore the brunt for censoring the photo of a Swedish fireman, who had suffered permanent scarring as a result of an explosion at an oil depot 35 years ago, from their platform.

The same year, the company also faced public backlash for censoring an iconic Vietnam War image and also banned the user who posted the photograph.

Around the same time at the beginning of 2016, Facebook entered into another controversy concerning censorship of the famous Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen — and again faced public criticism.

In all these cases, a backlash by both public and media forced the company to reinstate the images.

Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management, Monika Bickert, wrote, “People from different backgrounds may have different ideas about what’s appropriate to share.”

While this is correct, but Facebook being an open platform shouldn’t be indulging in censoring historical references as it was very much part of our culture, maybe not acceptable today in different cultures worldwide, but it certainly was.

Even if you take India for instance, Kamasutra — an erotic literature — was written in the country centuries ago, and we take great pride in that too. Sculptures in temples in Khajuraho, Konark, Udaipur, Markandeshwar, Osian, Hampi and caves in Ellora and many more are ‘sexually explicit’ too.

So should we be covering them up with a cloth? The company needs to revise its censorship policy for such historical art pieces as they can not compare them to things such as revenge porn videos/images or child pornography.

Prayank

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