Facebook has a long history of censoring photos of breastfeeding and pregnant women’s bodies, while much more disturbing content goes unscathed. One artist found out how far into the past the social network’s censorship reaches.
After Berlin-based photographer Peter Kaaden visited the Louvre, Paris’s expansive and historic art museum, he posted a photo of a nude sculpture to Facebook. This apparently violated their rules against nudity, and it was taken down. So he decided to make some SFW Louvre art, specifically to work around Facebook’s definitions of nudity.
“It’s the Louvre and Facebook is censoring probably the most important art on this planet,” he told Dazed Digital. “That’s why I decided to create my first non-100% photography series and make the Louvre Facebook-friendly in 2014. I think it’s important to show how Facebook is working—it doesn’t make sense for somebody to decide what the difference is between porn, nudity and art.”
However, if you read through Facebook’s rules for nudity and pornography, you’ll see this:
“Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved. We also impose limitations on the display of nudity. We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”
Was Kaaden testing the Michelangelo rule? Facebook recently lifted its ban on breastfeeding photos, but is a photo of an Italian or Greek sculpture really warping young minds? Kaaden explains that it shouldn’t be, since the Louvre is “the most important place for art in the world”:
“School groups with kids of every age are running around there all day 365 days a year. People from all over the world who are not even interested in art at all are standing in lines for hours to get in there and to see some stone penises and weird devil sculptures who have sex with virgin angels.”
The pixelization adds a perverse layer to the work. Recontextualized this way, in the heat of our heavily pixelated online culture, it’s almost more sexualized than if left untouched. What a time to be alive.