Facebook: To Censor or Not to Censor


(source: http://www.gerhard-richter.com/art/paintings/photo_paintings/detail.php?5778)

  • Ema (Akt auf einer Treppe)
    Ema (Nude on a Staircase)
  • 1966
  • 200 cm x 130 cm
  • Oil on canvas
  • Catalogue Raisonné: 134

Facebook is now being criticized for its censorship of Gerhard Richter’s painting entitled ‘Ema’ from the Centre Pompidou’s Facebook Page.

The Centre Pompidou is a museum located in Paris, France and is currently holding a retrospective of Richter’s work. The retrospective will be available for public viewing between June 6th 2012 and September 24, 2012.

The Centre Pompidou’s Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/centrepompidou.fr) included Richter’s paintings on their page to help promote the exhibit. The digital projects manager at Centre Pompidou complained about the sudden removal of the picture from the page and Facebook quickly apologized. The personnel at Facebook claimed that they were unaware that the painting was indeed a painting, mistook it for a photograph, and thus removed it since it would not have adhered to the no nude photography policy that Facebook adopts. After learning that the photograph was indeed a painting of a nude woman and not just a photograph of a nude woman, Facebook allowed the painting to be displayed on the page again.

This is where the hardball question(s) are asked: When is nudity inappropriate? Where does the thin line between artistic and crude exist? And who is to judge?

Should Facebook be allowed and even encouraged to take the Socratic approach and censure what they believe to be crude in an attempt to protect people and their enterprise, or should people who engage in the social network, irrespective of their age, gender, race, etc. be free to choose to use Facebook as they wish?

History has proven no absolutes here…

I would love to hear your opinions.

Gerhard Richter’s Website: http://www.gerhard-richter.com/

Centre Pompidou’s Website: http://www.centrepompidou-metz.fr/en/welcome


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