The Flemish Tourism Board created a video in response to Facebook censoring nude works by Paul Rubens from the Maison de Rubens in Antwerp.
The Flemish Tourist board has created a video, continuing a long-running battle between a prominent museum in Belgium and Facebook. At just over a minute long, the clip features fake social media inspectors, asking visitors if they have a social account. If they answer yes, the pseudo-social police officers, pretend to escort viewers away from the artwork, in order to avert their eyes away from nudity.
Since July, the Maison de Rubens in Antwerp — the former studio and home of the painter and Old Master Peter Paul Rubens — has been embroiled in a battle to try and get some of the Flemish artist’s most admired work past the censorship algorithms of Facebook’s paid media posts, but to little avail. “Unfortunately, promoting our unique cultural heritage on the world’s most popular social network is impossible right now,” said Toerisme Vlaanderen CEO Peter De Wilde. According to ABC news, when filming the stunt, one woman lifted up her shirt to show the security guard her chest while being ushered away.
It’s not just Flemish museums who have had a problem getting nudes past Facebook’s censorship rules. Last week a Canadian museum had to reach out to Facebook directly after the social media giant blocked an advert featuring an abstract nude by Picasso.
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts used an image featuring breasts for an online ad for its big summer exhibition. Despite the fact that Picasso’s Femmes à la toilette was the main image for the show, Facebook wouldn’t allow the museum to promote it via paid for adverts on the platform. Three failed attempts, including a change of image, later and Facebook finally allowed the post to go live. “The algorithm doesn’t see the difference between a piece of art and a bad ad,” a museum spokeswoman told the BBC.
The battle brings up some important questions: where is the line drawn between the obscene and the tasteful when it comes to nudity in art, and what should be allowed on social media?