Facebook faced a wave of criticism in September for removing an iconic photo of a young Vietnamese girl for violating its policy on nudity. As expected, thousands of people quickly took to their Facebook pages to protest Facebook’s decision to take down the pictures. Sensing a backlash, the social media behemoth quickly restored the picture and apologized for its earlier decision. Well, they did it again—Facebook has incurred the ire of a local Italian writer, Elisa Barbari; and this time, the social media giant took down the picture of Neptune’s nude status in front of a Piazza del Nettuno in the Italian city of Bologna, claiming it is “sexually explicit”.
Elisa Barbari had chosen the statue to illustrate her Facebook Page “Stories, curiosities and views of Bologna, reports the Guardian. Unknown to her, the picture chosen was against Facebook’s policy on nudity; and the social media giant didn’t hesitate to apply the rule.
In a statement accompanying the action, Facebook said:
“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.
“The use of images or video of nude bodies or plunging necklines is not allowed, even if the use is for artistic or educational reasons.”
In her immediate response, Ms. Barbari said she was stunned by Facebook’s censorship of the picture:
“Back in the 1950s, during celebrations for school children graduating, they used to cover up Neptune. Maybe Facebook would prefer the statue to be dressed again,” she wrote. She subsequently posted on her Facebook page a message in large letters: “Yes to Neptune, no to censorship.”
She further expressed her anger at the company’s decision, saying she was “indignant and irritated,” asking “How can a work of art, our very own statue of Neptune, be the object of censorship?”
The famous Neptune statue was created by Jean de Boulogne, a Flemish sculptor in the 1560s.
Facebook responds with an apology…
Responding in a statement shortly after Barbari’s outburst, a Facebook spokesperson said:
“Our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads. This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologise for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad.”
Seriously, Facebook has to put a stop to incessant censorship of certain photos. It really doesn’t help the company’s image to regularly take down iconic photos only to tender an apology; describing its decision as mistake.
In October, Facebook said it would make changes to its policy by allowing items people consider to be “newsworthy significant, or important to the public interest”—even if they are contrary to community standard. What this means is that, the social media behemoth will no longer censor important images considered to be important to the general public. It however, said, important images will be shown to the public with depicting graphic posts to minors or people who don’t want to see them.
Apparently, Facebook has not started implementing those changes, and this might continue to hurt its image.