Censorship Controversies USA

Too rude to show?

Facebook's nudity ban often falls afoul of art groups

Removed by Facebook: Courbet's The Origin of the World, a drawing by art student Steven Assael and a sculpture by Marco Cochrane shown at the Burning Man last year

Facebook has repeatedly disabled users’ accounts for posting images of Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World, 1866. The erotic work of art, in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, falls foul of the site’s prohibition of offensive materials. Facebook’s censorship has led to online campaigns encouraging users to change their profile pictures to show the work. This is, according to the French writer Luc Wouters, “so that Mark Zuckerberg [the company’s chief executive] comes across this masterpiece and can admire its unrelenting beauty as much as I do”.

Earlier this year, Facebook attracted criticism when it removed drawings posted on the profile of the New York Academy of Art. Steven Assael’s ink drawing Simone was deleted because it violated the site’s nudity ban. The academy spoke out on its blog, writing: “As an institution of higher learning with a long tradition of upholding the art world’s ‘traditional values and skills’, we find it difficult to allow Facebook to be the final arbiter—and online curator—of the artwork we share with the world.” Facebook apologised, and although it routinely removes naked photos of “actual” people, it allows the posting of drawings, paintings and sculptures of nudes.

The website’s monitors last year removed an image of a popular sculpture installed in the Nevada desert during the annual Burning Man festival.

A visitor posted an image on his profile of Bliss Dance, Marco Cochrane’s 40-foot-tall metal and mesh sculpture of a female dancer. Facebook apologised for removing the picture and encouraged the user to repost it.

The Danish artist Uwe Max Jensen has challenged Facebook by uploading works by artists including Anders Zorn. Even 100-year-old nude studies by the Swedish painter were deleted.

Community pages and groups set up on Facebook in protest include “Artists against Art Censorship” (403 members) and “Stop Censorship of Modern Art” (99 members).

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11 Nov 11
19:18 CET


So the post by Aby begs the question: How in the world did s/he find this website in order to make that comment?

6 Nov 11
22:39 CET


So in respoonse to this article I told facebook how amazing they are doing. I think it is great they delete this trash. It is not your right to make and account, agree to their polocies, break the policies, and try to say facebook was in the worng. If you don't like them don't use facebook! They explicitly state the rules and you chose to break them. If you ahve an issue with them deleting the photo's than I really hope you are not someone rolemodel! You are showing others that is ok to agree to follow a rule and decide you don't like it and break it. Posting these photo's is the same as not doing your homework, smoking under age, skipping school, and disobeying your parents! Rules are there for a reason, if you don't like them don't agree to them!

17 Oct 11
15:28 CET


Facebook draws people into its network, it's everywhere in a explosion of commercial displays, you offer a sentence or a photo and they slap your face, diminish your emotions and you can never meet the guy that slapped your face to explain yourself. That to me is extremely rude and boring and vile, too.

17 Oct 11
15:27 CET


Are we really just children in adult bodies as Picasso tells us?

17 Oct 11
15:27 CET


I fail to realize how anyone can deny others their interpretation of museum quality art, one person or organization refusing millions. Why do folks frown at the artist's favorite model, the human body is not an object for anyone to express their paranoia, which is probably extremely very deep rooted.

28 Sep 11
23:56 CET


I'm with David, Facebook is not interested in definitions of Art, merely the bottom line. (haha!) The occasional user who migrates elsewhere, because they are unhappy with moderating decisions, is very unlikely to be mourned over, by the owners of the site.

20 Sep 11
16:16 CET


It amazes me that many Artists continue using Facebook as a forum for their work. Facebook is not a cultural institution. Facebook is a big corporation that is doing what they do to make a profit, and if content does not suit their needs, they simply remove it. So, what is surprising about this!?

16 Sep 11
14:54 CET


Cultural literacy, lacking in the USA

16 Sep 11
14:33 CET


Links: “Artists against Art Censorship” https://www.facebook.com/pages/Artists-against-art-censorship/119258178093060 “Stop Censorship of Modern Art” https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=112236582139460

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