Consider the Lilies of the Field...

Zodiac Man. Book illumination from the Renaissance.

Facebook's Fear of Nudity, by Stefan Stenudd


Fortunately, the Internet is difficult to censor. But some major players certainly try, and their prime concern is with the most natural thing there is: nudity. Here is how I clashed with Facebook on this issue.



       The image above is what I used in a Facebook ad for my book about medical astrology. It is a Renaissance book illumination of the Zodiac Man, showing the traditional links between body parts and the Zodiac signs. It was not approved by Facebook.

       Many of my friends probably think that the concern would have to be with the controversial so-called pseudoscience of astrology. Most people regard it as pure superstition. But that was not the problem at all to Facebook.

       They don't allow nudity. Here is what they wrote:


Your ad wasn't approved because it doesn't follow our Advertising Policies. We don't allow ads that depict nudity, even if it's not sexual in nature. This includes the use of nudity for artistic or educational purposes.

       How to fix: We suggest using a different image or video and checking that the destination link is compliant too.

       Learn more about our Advertising Policies. If you think we've made a mistake and your ad does follow our policies, please let us know.


       Notice that they even demand the destination link, on a website outside of Facebook, to follow the same strict policy. Tomorrow, the world...


Hysterical

Well, of course I just had to let them know that they made a mistake, so I replied:


You are hysterical in both senses of the word. It's not nudity, it is classical art.

       Furthermore, as if that would be so terrible, no genitals are exposed.

       Now, what to do with the Sistine chapel?


       Facebook's reply arrived after mere minutes. That is impressive. The content of the reply is not:


Hi Stefan,

Thanks for writing in.

       Your ad wasn't approved because the image being used in it doesn't comply with our Adult Products Policy.

       We don't allow ads that show nude images/videos (ex: medical diagrams, memes, tattoos on someone's breasts/bottom, breast surgeries, nude art, breastfeeding with nipple showing). Such ads lead to negative user sentiment and we have zero tolerance towards such advertisements. This policy applies even if your ad is targeted to an 18+ audience.

       This decision is final and we may not respond to additional inquiries about this ad.

       Was this helpful? Let us know.

       Thanks, Rose, Facebook Ads Team


The Human Rights Issue

There is so much to object to in that short message, I don't know where to begin.

       It's obviously a form letter, which explains the speed by which it was delivered. That also means they get a lot of complains about this policy. They should.

       When they state that the decision is final, a lingo properly belonging to a Supreme Court and really nowhere else, they reveal both the megalomania typical of billion dollar companies and their naivety. Nothing is final in this world, until the sun expands to consume it.

       Consider also that they don't care if the ad is only shown to an 18+ audience. That's in violation of the laws of most countries, which regard 18+ as adults and therefore having the right to decide for themselves what they can be exposed to.

       Facebook has decided to treat us all like children, and to ignore human rights in their cyberspace empire.


Jesus Didn't Mind

Their defense is that it leads to “negative user sentiment.” How many users, pray tell? My educated guess is that it's a small but noisy number of inhibited religious conservatives, probably most of them living in the United States Bible Belt.

       I also dare to bet that an overwhelming majority of Facebook users are fine with nudity, actually even enjoying it as long as it's not in very bad taste.

       Nudity is beautiful. Even Jesus said so:


And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matthew 6:28-29)


       It's a pity that the most hardheaded Christians don't read the Bible...

       When Facebook refuses nudity because some few people are bitter enough to be offended by it, the company is anti-democratic. They allow the will of a few to decide for the majority.

       Money can do that. But it's still wrong.


Neither Art Nor Science

The absurdity goes on in their listing of what nudity is not allowed, which is simply all of it.

       Nude art, as in the case of my ad image of a Renaissance book illumination, is no exception to Facebook. That's a big chunk of all the masterpieces in art history, accepted everywhere else in society.

       They don't even accept medical diagrams or surgery images. I know that many US schoolbooks have censored anatomy illustrations, which is inexcusable even when the books are aimed at school kids. But to extend it into adult age? That's madness.

       Consider again what they said in their first message: “This includes the use of nudity for artistic or educational purposes.” We are not allowed to admire it, nor to learn from it.

       Neither art nor science benefit. No one does. It is just a triumph for the bigoted few.


Helpful?

“Was this helpful?” Facebook asks at the end of their message. Helpful! Are they kidding me? So I clicked the link and wrote:


Your policy regarding nudity is Medieval. Actually, it was not that strict even in those days. “Consider the lilies of the field...”

       You should reconsider your policy, to be taken seriously in the civilized world.

       At least, although it is also questionable, you could make adaptions of your policy to different countries or parts of the world.


       I don't expect to get an answer. But if I do, I will be sure to post it here.


Stefan Stenudd
December 28, 2015




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