Feb. 22, 2011 at 12:41 PM ET
For some reason, nude portraits always seem to bring out the 13-year-old Beavis in a lot of folks, and in Facebook's case, it brings out their very prudish, strict, old-school side that has a hard time abiding by any boobage, regardless of artistic value.
When Facebook determined that the New York Academy of Art violated its terms of service in uploading nude images, it pulled the plug on uploads on the graduate school's page, which for an institution that is defined by its visual offerings, is a major blow.
The action was temporary, but it made a big impression on the school, which protested the move on its blog:
As an institution of higher learning with a long tradition of upholding the art world’s “traditional values and skills,” we, the Graduate School of Figurative Art, find it difficult to allow facebook to be the final arbiter – and online curator – of the artwork we share with the world.
The righteous indignation of the artist scorned comes through loud and clear, with a final question on that post: "How is FACEBOOK controlling ART?"
The New York Times wrote about the situation, and published Facebook's mea culpa:
"We count many amateur — and some professional — artists among our employees, and we’re thrilled that so many artists share their work on Facebook," Simon Axten, a Facebook spokesman, said in a statement. "In this case, we congratulate the artist on his lifelike portrayal that, frankly, fooled our reviewers. Each member of our investigations team reviews thousands of pieces of reported content every day and, of course, we occasionally make a mistake. We’re sorry for the confusion here and we encourage the artist to repost his work."
Did you know that on any given day, Facebook staff reviews thousands of images (flagged by users) a day? And while the company prohibits nude photographs (and even then, we saw some exceptions, on the New York Academy of Art Facebook page), there is apparently "an unwritten policy" that does sanction artistic representations of the human body. (Sort of defeats the purpose of a policy, don't you think?)
The New York Times story goes on to recount other artists who have been the victim of Facebook censorship, showing that what happened to the Academy is far from an isolated incident, but not widespread enough to lead to a mass revolt. (Hard to do with more than 600 million users all over the world, anyway.)
This is a school that hasn't hid its artistic expression, from what little I saw on their Facebook page alone this morning. This is, after all, the same Academy that has an annual "Take Home a Nude" art auction and party in the fall, that will celebrate its 20th anniversary as an event this year.
And again, seems like Facebook got in trouble for not being readily available to their users (the lack of a phone number and contact e-mail beyond the most basic one has long been a thorn in the side of FB'ers). There is a way to respond to a disabled account, through this form.
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