Facebook and other social networks have invested millions in “content moderation” by employing an army of people responsible for the removal of offensive material, including violent photos and racist commentary. For the most part, this team keeps the social web friendly and clean and it makes Facebook’s mainstream advertisers happy to know such policies are in place. But not all of these moderators have art degrees. And removing an artist’s work on Facebook because it happens to include nudity can become a real issue.
That’s exactly what happened to art photographer Tom Bianchi. The Palm Springs-based artist wrote a blog post last month detailing how one of his nude art drawings was removed from Facebook because it was believed to be “pornography.”
“Facebook uses the words ‘pornography’ and ‘community standards,’ as if they know what those words mean. They borrow those terms from a long line of US Supreme Court cases on censorship, but misuse them,” Bianchi wrote. Below is the “controversial” nude art image. What do you think?
It’s not like Bianchi is a posting penis pictures for the hell of it. His latest photo book, Fire Island Pines Polaroids, was named of of the best photo books in 2015 by Time magazine, and it garnered several other accolades from the art world.
In his blog post, Bianchi makes the point that depicting nudity, in and of itself, is not necessarily pornography but actually constitutes free speech and as such it’s protected by the Constitution. It’s a similar stance to #FreetheNipple campaign, with feminists proclaiming that depictions of Rihanna’s nude body are not inherently pornographic. Furthermore, Bianchi writes that gay artists whose work features male nudes are particularly and unfairly targeted by Facebook’s policies.
“Facebook joins a long history of institutional sexphobic censors – from medieval clerics who hacked the dicks off classical sculpture to the Nazis who did so much worse,” Bianchi wrote.