Facebook Political Correctness Under Fire
A group of museums in Belgium has made a promotional video mocking Facebook’s censorship of nudity, which they argue prevents art lovers from admiring great Flemish painters such as Rubens, Bruegel, and Van Eyck.
Currently, Facebook’s nudity censorship automated filters do not distinguish between pornography and images of artistic or historic significance. The Flemish Tourist Board believes that the company’s strict advertising rules have made it almost impossible to promote great artists.
“Our Flemish Masters tempt hundreds of thousands of people every year to visit Flanders and we are very proud of that,”says Peter De Wilde, CEO of Flanders Tourism. “Unfortunately, promoting our unique cultural heritage today is not possible via the most popular social media. Our art is classed under the heading of indecent and even pornographic. That is very unfortunate.”
In order to address the loophole, which censors private parts in the works of great Flemish painters, the Tourist Board made a video where the “nudity police” prevent the visitors of the Rubens House in Antwerp from looking at any sort of depiction of nudity. After Facebook allegedly removed posts and adverts featuring Peter Paul Rubens’ ‘The Descent from the Cross,’ in which Jesus is naked in his loincloth, the wardens of the museum are seen asking visitors to step away from the masterpiece if they have a social media account.
The agency, which is currently trying to attract over 3 million visitors as part of a two-year initiative promoting the Flemish masters, has also written an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, inviting him out for coffee to discuss censorship policy.
The bare breasts and buttocks painted by our artists are considered by you to be inappropriate,” the letter signed by a network of museums and cultural institutions reads. “Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life rather difficult for us.”
Noting that art lovers use Facebook too, the Tourism Board urged the social media giant to reconsider using the word “indecent” to describe the breast, buttocks and cherubs of Peter Paul Rubens or any other Flemish artists.
“If Peter Paul Rubens had created a Facebook account in his lifetime, he would have had an extraordinary number of people following his fan page,” the letter reads. “Are you willing to help us think of a solution to this problem? That way everyone in the world can marvel at the magnificent brushstrokes made by Rubens and our Flemish Masters.”
Facebook agreed to discuss the issue with the Belgian cultural institutions, noting that it will not ban artistic nudity from regular posts. Restrictions, however, would still be applied to advertisements.
Facebook’s handling of nudity put it into hot water on more than one occasion. In 2016, it sparked outrage in Norway over the network’s insistence that an iconic image of a naked girl, who survived napalm bombing in Vietnam, was not appropriate.
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