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Facebook Censors Famous Works of Art

Should Facebook Censor Famous Art?

Art censorship is back in the news, but this time it's no crazed museum visitor punching a painting, it's Facebook deactivating profiles for featuring Gustave Courbet's 1886 painting The Origin of the World. This isn't the first time the controversial painting that features a NSFW up-close vagina has faced censorship roadblocks. In the last couple decades books using the work of art on their covers have been taken off shelves and out of window displays.

But when it comes to Facebook, the debate centers on whether or not it's the site's duty or right to ban people from putting up a famous work of art on their personal profiles that could be seen by people of all ages on the wall of a museum (in this case, the Musée d'Orsay in Paris). What do you think? Should these paintings abide by Facebook's rule that users can't "post content that is hateful, threatening, or pornographic, or that incites violence, or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence," or should they be exempt?

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Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 5 years
I guess it depends on WHY you're posting them, if it's just to cause trouble then it should be censored, but if you're actually providing insightful commentary then I can see why they shouldn't be censored. Though it would be too much of a hassle for fb to handle this on a case by case basis. So I understand why they won't allow anyone to post it. Makes me wonder though, do they go through and check everyone's profile for nudity? Or do they handle it only as it's reported?
snarkypants snarkypants 5 years
i agree with roaringsilence. i also don't really think it's appropriate to post somebody else's work on your facebook profile, but that's a whole different can of worms.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 5 years
I think censoring nudity (not sexual acts, just nudity) is done too much in general, but that's not Facebook's fault. In this case, I certainly think they should treat those pictures the same as all other nude pictures, simply because it will be impossible to draw the line. They can't possibly determine on a case by case thing whether some random photographer's work is "famous" or not, and therefore exempt from censorship. So in short, I disagree with censorship of nudity in general, but Facebook is a service, and a free one at that, and if you're using it, you're agreeing to their (very clear) rules. I'm going to have to quote Voltaire on this: "I hate what you write, but I will give my life so that you can continue to write."
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