Facebook bans photo of Neptune's statue for being 'explicitly sexual'

Social network says it has reviewed and approved the image

News Desk January 04, 2017
PHOTO: Reuters

Facebook is facing severe criticism after it blocked a photograph of a bronze statue of Neptune in Italy.

Well known as Giambologna, the statue was designed by Jean Boulogne in the middle of the sixteenth century.  The fountain of Neptune stands in the Piazza del Nettuno in Bologna.

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Facebook found the photo of the unclad Roman god "explicitly sexual" and asked Italian writer Elisa Barbari to remove it from her page. Barbari had tried to upload an image of the statue from her personal collection, however, Facebook automatically prevented the image from being uploaded.

Barbari, who manages the page "Stories, curiosities and views of Bologna," challenged the decision and received an email where Facebook defended its earlier ban referring to a violation of advertising guidelines.

"The use of images or video of nude bodies or plunging necklines is not allowed, even if the use is for artistic or educational reasons," the message read.

Barbari was stunned by Facebook’s decision. "The statue is shown from behind, not even as a close up, it's in the distance. It's ridiculous," she told CNN.

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"At first I was angry. Then I was surprised, I couldn't understand why they don't want to clarify. It's absurd.

"In the past, I have flagged inappropriate content to Facebook myself -- fake news, violence on animals... Things that really need to be censured, not art. I don't know what to think, it's ridiculous," she added.

"I am guessing this hasn't landed on Zuckerberg's desk yet. There is nothing vulgar in a work of art," she added.

Eventually Facebook unblocked the image. Explaining the ban in a statement sent to CNN, Facebook wrote, "Our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads. This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologise for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad."

This article originally appeared on CNN.


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