Facebook’s policy on pornography has meant a Rubens painting called The Descent From The Cross has been censored.
Their rule has caught out a few other images – the iconic Napalm girl image was censored in 2016 for the same reason but the decision was then overturned after a significant outcry.
Rubens’ painting features Jesus being lowered from the cross, covered by a loincloth but mostly naked.
Facebook’s nudity policy as stated on their website is: “We restrict the display of nudity or sexual activity because some people in our community may be sensitive to this type of content. Additionally, we default to removing sexual imagery to prevent the sharing of non-consensual or underage content. Restrictions on the display of sexual activity also apply to digitally created content unless it is posted for educational, humorous or satirical purposes.”
But it also listed exceptions including nudity in protest images or when for medicinal purposes.
“We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures,” the policy reads.
Tourism authorities and museum curators have written an open letter to Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg to complain about this happening frequently to Rubens’ work.
In a letter from the CEO of Visit Flanders, Peter De Wilde said: “Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life rather difficult for us. After all, we want to use your platform to promote both our Flemish Masters as well as Flanders as the perfect place to discover their works of art.”
He added: “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 other Flemish Masters. If you can, we will gladly swap that coffee for a refreshing Belgian beer. We hope to hear from you soon.”