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Facebook Censors Paris’s Jeu de Paume, Threatens To Deactivate the Museum’s Account

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After censoring a Gerhard Richter nude on the Pompidou Center’s page last summer, Facebook is at it again. The social network removed a 1940 photograph of a partially nude woman from the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume’s page and even disabled the museum’s account for 24 hours because of its infringement of Facebook community standards.

The image, from the Paris museum’s current exhibition of photographs by Laure Albin Guillot, was removed on Friday. Afterwards, the Jeu de Paume reposted the photo with a black square covering the breasts and related what happened, adding that “we have already committed other violations previously, when posting nudes by Willy Ronis and Manuel Álvarez Bravo. With another warning from Facebook, our account is at risk of being permanently deactivated.” The museum’s solution? “Therefore we will post no more nudes, even if we think that their artistic value is great and that these photographs — which are not at all pornographic — respect ‘the right to publish content of a personal nature.’”

The media-focused blog Arrêt sur Images was not happy about the museum’s self-censorship. “So this is how a center for art and culture devoted to the history of photography agrees to censor itself to satisfy the requirements of the sexually repressed management of Facebook,” Alain Korkos wrote. “This is how a social network brought the Jeu de Paume to its knees.”

In fact, the museum’s responses have been somewhat contradictory. Museum director Marta Gili told Libération that it is not a question of self-censorship because “now, instead of putting up photos of nudes, we’re going to describe them, and, you’ll see, this will seem much more shocking to people.” But the museum also posted a letter on its Facebook page thanking its friends for their support and writing that “we are counting on this debate to lead to a review of Facebook’s ‘community standards’ and we will refuse in the future to submit to any kind of censorship.”

When Facebook took down Richter’s “Ema” from the Pompidou Center’s page, it was because the nude painting was mistaken for a photograph. (When the museum complained, the image was restored.) The question still remains as to why Facebook’s “community standards” allow nude paintings or sculptures but not nude photographs. Perhaps the bigger question is whether a huge global company can be said to represent a single “community” and whether these standards are really doing a service to Facebook’s nearly one billion users.

“Behind all this there’s an obsolete fundamentalism, a sort of religious radicalism that doesn’t want nudity, especially female nudity,” Gili told Libération. “Because it’s not a coincidence that it’s always women’s bodies that cause them problems.”

— Kate Deimling, ARTINFO France

(Photo via Jeu de Paume/Facebook.)

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  1. Even though it’s in good taste. We must remember that WE signed up to use Facebook and have to abide by their terms.

  2. Poppycock. This is like when proofreaders or editors only read or search for words, but not the context or significance.
    What lunatic level is a site functioning at when breasts automatically equal a violation?

  3. by Maggie Boyle

    Should I be ashamed of my breasts. Should my natural body not be celebrated for its function and form. Should I hide my naked self for fear of upsetting ‘the’ communities delicate sensibilities.
    As a life model/academic/artist I have celebrated my body in its representations of youth, womanhood, motherhood. I am not a perversion! Images of my naked body are not pornographic degradations, but true, honest accounts of the female form.
    Nameless, faceless, pointless actions…Facebook you do not represent me!

  4. Censorship of any kind only draws more attention to that which is censored. Particularly in this day and age. What is the intention of the censor? I can hardly believe that a 20 something at FB is doing this out of his/her own believe he/she is protecting the public. One of my works, A Perfect Friend, part of THE BIG PICTURE in Denver Colorad was censored (by the curator, Mark Sink). The collage work included an image of female genitalia. Sink patched over in blue the “offensive” parts when he posted the installation shots. W/out the blue patch very few people would have noticed. I’m interested now in collecting more stories about censorship on FB… Contact me if you have something to offer.

  5. defacebook!

  6. Pavlo is correct. The other points of view expressed here, and the contradictory position of the museum, only solidifies the Facebook hegemony on their communication channel.

  7. That’s why Facebook, while being usefull in ways, should only be ignored.

  8. I think the added black square adds additional interest to this photograph. The nude figure suggests classicism, the geometric markings suggest modernity and science, the black square the response of sectors of society that are uncomfortable with sensual images.

  9. I’m a pretty insignificant, unknown artist as far as most any art community is concerned, but several times now I’ve been hit with content violations. What’s absurd to me is that in *every* instance, the piece is clearly not a photograph. However, I’ve been afraid of my account being further restricted, and have complied. Currently I’m contemplating whether it’s worth even having a Facebook account. I’ve certainly stopped advertising with Facebook.

    If you’d like a laugh, here’s my offensive work:

  10. by Judy Kenney

    Are you people at Facebook insane?
    Next you’ll be banning people whose books, stories,
    articles or movies, you don’t approve of!!

  11. All the more annoying given their policy of not taking down extremely offensive and hate-filled pages that glorify violence against women, and pages that are essentially degrading soft porn. Despite both of those being clearly against their terms of use, when the above (arguably) is not.


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