Kate Brown – See the Flemish Tourism Board’s Hilarious Response to Facebook’s Relentless Censorship of Peter Paul Rubens

In the satirical video, a team of “Social Media Inspectors” block viewers from seeing paintings at the Rubens House in Antwerp.

In a satirical new YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZq3cVgU5AI), the Flemish tourism board is calling out Facebook for the site’s incessant censoring of one of Belgium’s national treasures: the baroque Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens. (http://www.artnet.com/artists/peter-paul-rubens/)

An advertisement featuring Rubens’s celebrated painting The Descent from the Cross, which depicts Jesus Christ in a loincloth, is among those that Facebook has taken down in recent years.

In the satirical video, Facebook-branded security—called “fbi”—redirect unwitting crowds at the Rubens House in Antwerp away from paintings that depict nude figures. “We need to direct you away from nudity, even if artistic in nature,” says one Social Media Inspector.

According to Facebook’s policy, ads containing sexually oriented content, including artistic or educational nudes, are prohibited on the sharing platform. This excludes statues, apparently, though they did try to censor the prehistoric figurine the Venus of Willendorf earlier this year (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/art-industry-news-february-28-2018-1232723), after it was posted on the Facebook account of the Kunsthistoriches Musem in Vienna.

In March, a French court ruled (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/facebook-censorship-gustave-courbet-1245458) that Facebook could not censor Gustave Courbet (http://www.artnet.com/artists/gustave-courbet/) ‘s painting Origin of the World after its image had been removed from the site. There was also an outcry when Facebook forced the removal (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/flemish-museums-art-censorship-rubens-1322735) of Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (1830) from an advertisement. (The social media site later apologized.)

The Flemish video, as well as a cheeky open letter from the tourism board and a group of Belgian museums, asks Facebook to roll back its censorship standards so that they can promote Rubens. “Breasts, buttocks and Peter Paul Rubens’ cherubs are all considered indecent. Not by us, but by you,” the letter, addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, says. “Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life rather difficult for us.”

The social media scandal comes on the heels of string of censorship issues (https://news.artnet.com/market/gray-market-facebook-art-censorship-1235822) from the media giant, which is struggling to keep its younger users on board (https://www.emarketer.com/content/facebook-losing-younger-users-at-even-faster-pace).

The Guardian reported that Facebook is planning to have talks with the Flemish tourist board.

VISITFLANDERS – Social media doesn’t want you to see Rubens’ paintings

Gepubliceerd op 21 jul. 2018

Flanders – the perfect destination to enjoy the Flemish Masters in all their glory – is denouncing artistic censorship on social media platforms in a playful manner. At the Rubens House, ‘nudity viewers’ with a Facebook account were blocked from viewing nudity by a group of “social media police agents”.


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artnet News, July 24, 2018


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