Sunday 16 December 2018

Facebook told to rethink its 'censorship' of artistic nudes

'It is possible to post artistic nudes on Facebook but if nudes are part of an advert, they fall under stricter rules' (stock photo)
'It is possible to post artistic nudes on Facebook but if nudes are part of an advert, they fall under stricter rules' (stock photo)

James Crisp

Facebook has been urged to consider allowing more artistic nudity on its platform by a consortium of Belgian museums who object to the "censorship" of works by the likes of Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens.

The museums, led by the Flemish Tourist Board, claim the social media giant's strict advertising rules have made it impossible to promote one of Flanders' greatest artists.

An advert featuring Rubens's 'The Descent from the Cross', which depicts Jesus naked apart from a loincloth, was among posts which were removed.

"We have noticed that Facebook consistently rejects works of art by our beloved Peter Paul Rubens," the group wrote in an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, before offering to meet the Facebook boss for a Belgian beer if he changes the rules to allow nude works to be seen in all their glory.

"Indecent. That is the word used to describe the breasts, buttocks and cherubs of Peter Paul Rubens. Not by us but by you," the open letter reads. "Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life rather difficult for us".

The letter goes on to claim Antwerp-based Rubens, who died in 1640, aged 62, would have had "an extraordinary number of followers on Facebook" if he were alive today and beseeches Facebook to find a way to allow the Flemish Tourist Board to reach out to art lovers across the world.

However, it appears there may be a brush of exaggeration in the claims of censorship. It is possible to post artistic nudes on Facebook but if nudes are part of an advert, they fall under stricter rules.

The 'censored' works by the likes of Rubens, who used classical nudes as a metaphor for the relative decadence of his era, were adverts for the region and its museums.

Irish Independent

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