Facebook Nixes Picture Of Bronze Mermaid Statue For Showing Too Much 'Skin'
from the no-skin-in-the-game dept
As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. Facebook, being a dominant force in the social media industry, certainly has a great deal of power, but how does it do in the responsibility department. It’s an important question, because as a platform essentially designed to facilitate speech and expression, it would seem necessary to treat with care how it collides with that speech when controversy arises. Unfortunately, we’ve seen time and time again how Facebook treats the question bureaucratically rather than with any kind of nuance. Between bending the knee to national interests, promising to censor speech deemed to be hateful, or just flat out hiding behind a wall of corporate speak in order to take down photos, the trend for Facebook is one of grip-tightening rather than free expression.
And so the trend continues, being helpfully highlighted by an instance in which a Danish public official has a photo of a bronze statue removed for showing too much body.
Social Democrat MP Mette Gjerskov wanted to post a link to her blog, which included a shot of the bronze statue, when she received a rejection notification from the site, the Ekstra Bladet website reports. The message, which Ms Gjerskov shared on her social media accounts, said the Little Mermaid image contained “too much bare skin or sexual undertones”. It added that the rules applied even if an image had “artistic or educational purposes”.
Here is the Little Mermaid statue in question.
If you find that image arousing, you are in severe need of psychological care. The idea of a bronze piece of art showing too much skin is the kind of ridiculousness you can only get from bureaucracy, even in the private sector. Rules built to stifle speech that cast wide nets will always, always, always catch too much non-offending speech to be worth the policy.
Now, Facebook eventually agreed after complaints were sent in, citing a policy clarification from last year.
Ms Gjerskov described the decision as “totally ridiculous”, although in a later update she said Facebook had subsequently relented and approved the image. In March 2015, the site clarified its rules on nudity and said that it does allow photos of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures.
Except this doesn’t really solve the issue. Instead, it transfers the dilemma to the question of exactly who are the arbiters of what constitutes artistic expression which should be allowed under the policy. One person’s art may be another’s pornography, after all. And, while the solution probably can’t be a completely limitless allowance of all kinds of nudity in every case, it seems clear that any policy currently entrapping bronze statues of mermaids is probably off by a matter of multiples.