Facebook’s draconian regulations regarding the banning of all forms of nudity on images posted to the platform have long been the subject of criticism. It wasn’t until recently that the site stopped its policy of banning images of women breastfeeding–apparently an activity crucial to the continuation of the human race is offensive to some viewers.
Cries to #FreeTheNipple have been heard across the Internet for years, and while Facebook has responded gradually, the rules still remain relatively unchanged. The website’s official “Community Standards” page explains that
“Our nudity policies have become more nuanced over time…while we restrict some images of female breasts that include the nipple, we allow other images, including those depicting acts of protest, women actively engaged in breast-feeding, and photos of post-mastectomy scarring. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures.”
However, recently an incident occurred that would suggest that last line may not hold true in all cases. A Belgian tourist board penned an open letter directed to Facebook in which the authors claimed that images the group posted were unfairly censored. The deleted posts were photographs of paintings done by the famed Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, and Facebook flagged them due to the fact that they featured female nudity.
The letter reads,
“The bare breasts and buttocks painted by our artist are considered by (Facebook) to be inappropriate. Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life difficult for us… 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 group went to additional lengths and actually filmed and posted a satirical video poking more fun at Facebook. The short film depicted museum-goers being accosted by staff who tell them that if they have an account on the social media then they must leave, as Facebookers must be sheltered from
“nudity even if artistic in nature, including paintings that feature individual body parts such as abs, buttocks or cleavage”.
Facebook has not issued an official response as of yet, but has agreed to meet with the group.