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Naked Scandinavians too much for Facebook

Naked Scandinavians too much for Facebook

Published: 30 Mar 2011 11:13 GMT+02:00
Updated: 30 Mar 2011 11:13 GMT+02:00

Moderators chose to erase an image posted on the Swedish underwear giant Björn Borg’s Facebook page, after deeming the contents to be pornographic.

The image shows two naked men in an autumnal Scandinavian wood, jumping for Björn Borg underwear drying on a clothes line.

“We realized it was probably the most daring image we had ever uploaded, but were confident it was still within what is considered OK,” Micke Kazarnovicz, responsible for digital communication at Björn Borg, told The Local.

Many companies use Facebook to reach the 4 million or so users in Sweden. One of these is Björn Borg, who since 2007 has a large platform of user-generated content on their page.

Fans upload their own images and every week the company chooses a picture, which becomes the “Swedish export of the week”.

The happy snapper gets rewarded with free underwear and a chance to see his or her image posted on the official Björn Borg Facebook page.

But this particular image, taken by Jacob Mohr Hansen from Denmark, proved too much for Facebook.

The picture, uploaded around lunchtime, got many hits and many users left comments. But by the evening it had been erased.

And Kazarnovicz’ Facebook account had been frozen. In order to get his account back he had to promise not to upload any more ‘pornographic’ images.

“They saw this as pornographic, but to us it was really more a laugh, completely tongue in cheek. There is no eroticism at all in the picture, just nudity,” said Kazarnovicz.

Although he doesn’t think that Facebook has a policy about same-sex nudity the fact that the two men were seen naked together might have led to homophobic reactions and comments from the public.

“It was probably completely automatic. Someone reported it as offensive and then a moderator looked at it, consulted his rulebook and then erased it,” he said.

However, Kazarnovicz is certain that this has to do with differences between what is considered OK in Sweden compared to the US.

“In the US, violent scenes in films are accepted, but if a nipple is visible there’s a huge controversy. In Sweden it is the opposite,” he said.

According to Kazarnovicz, Facebook can’t continue to act in line with American morals on a global arena. It becomes a question of culture imperialism.

“They probably don’t have a policy to do this, but in reality, as soon as they moderate content according to the likes and dislikes of the average American, that’s exactly what they are doing,” he said.

For the moment, Björn Borg has made use of a blue square with the words “facebook friendly” covering the buttocks of the naked men.

But Kazarnovicz is certain that they will run in to trouble again. He thinks that Facebook needs to be more aware of the cultural differences of its users.

“Otherwise they are promoting a cultural uniformity that really shouldn’t be pursued,“ he said to The Local.

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:02 March 30, 2011 by Swedesmith
Looks like a scene from Brokeback Mountain...
12:25 March 30, 2011 by calebian22
I just can't quit yue..
12:50 March 30, 2011 by karex
I can't see what's wrong with it.
13:12 March 30, 2011 by Clarabow
I think they were just out walking, stripped off to have a swim, (these northern people don't feel the cold) and when they came back found their clothes gone. Happens all the time in films. And of course they were just trying to cover up. Decent of them. Not sure what all the fuss is about; if women hang out by the washing line with nothing on, no one says a word? I have seen worse in the newspapers and mags in WH Smith's. Actually I thought it rather cheering - on a frosty morning.
14:07 March 30, 2011 by Syftfel
I totally agree. The boundaries of decency must be drawn somewhere! Not everything needs to be dragged down to the lowest, bottom scraping, instincts of Sodom and Gomorrah. Let's maintain an element of decorum and morality. I believe in the US school of thought on this issue. Don't force feed us with nudity. It can not be healthy and is a private matter.
14:17 March 30, 2011 by truthworthy
"We realized it was probably the most daring image we had ever uploaded, but were confident it was still within what is considered OK,"

Are you kidding me? how on earth are these pictures OK? In fact I argue the Local to take down these pictures from this site. This is pure porn.

and by the way, TL dont tell me you dont censor, this website is a joke for freedom of speech, I am surprised how much Sweden promotes freedom of speech and how much TL violates that by deleting many comments.
14:17 March 30, 2011 by rise
Facebook is an American company, yes? Therefore the moral panic... they're so silly. Through a bomb in someone's face - no problem. Show a nipple - oh no please God!
14:54 March 30, 2011 by Nemesis
Violence is perfectly acceptable on face. Facebook is a US company, therefore the need to enforce Christo-Taliban irrational hatred of the body onto the rest of the world.
14:57 March 30, 2011 by BrittInSweden
@truthworthy Wow if you think this is porn never read the tabloids, The Sun or the Sunday Sport in the UK.

The American thoughts on nudity are based squarely in the past. They would gladly show some guy get shot in the face and see it as acceptable than ever show a nipple on screen.

Stop forcing your censorship mentality on others!!!
15:23 March 30, 2011 by terriergirl
Looks like quite a nice picture as them men are smiling/laughing. How can anyone be bothered by this? I'm tempted to use it as my screen backround.
16:14 March 30, 2011 by ooh456
hmmm... seems innocent enough. Getting sick of fb. Last thing we need is another corporate whore big brother.
20:40 March 30, 2011 by mikewhite
Why not have facebook.se, where Swedish mores prevailed ?
21:15 March 30, 2011 by Rolle
Björn Borg is always up to this kind of stunts. Remember Henrik Stenson stripping to his Borg's briefs in the middle of a tournament a couple of years ago.
23:17 March 30, 2011 by redfish
@Nemesis :

lol. I'm not going to comment on whether Facebook was right or not, but you can keep the photo on your computer and trade it with your friends, and if you want to share it on a social network you can start your own social network. If you think some company is forcing their morals on the world by taking responsibility on their own site, you have a victim complex.
08:51 March 31, 2011 by Argentina84
Well done Facebook. What's the nees to advertise underwear with two naked men?
09:22 March 31, 2011 by Angry Ami
Yeah, once again FB prove it's policy of double standard, they allowed a EMT to post a pic of a dead women from a murder scene where he arrived, and now the parents of the woman are suing FB, but any slight sexual content gets deleted, more American prudishness via FB.
13:03 March 31, 2011 by Skallywag
@Trustworthy

I know this will be deleted and hope you see it before it does.

Get a grip u a$$ or better still, get a grip on your a$$ and stick your head up it.
13:44 March 31, 2011 by markusd
For all those who think this is just another example of the prudish Americans forcing their values on the world, I would recommend that you contact Facebook immediately and demand a full refund. :-)

Seriously though, what exactly do you expect Facebook to do? Should they demand that all photos of women have their head, arms and legs covered or should they allow full fledged porn? Setting up different sites for each country with their own staff of moderators seems like it would be expensive and not very practical. No matter what they do, someone's always going to be unhappy so they're probably just trying to establish standards that will anger the minimum number of users.

And speaking of cultural oppression, or whatever, I just had to change the words "pi$$ off" to "anger" in the sentence above because The Local said it was profanity. I wish the Swedes who run The Local would stop forcing their censorship mentality on me.
13:53 March 31, 2011 by Skallywag
@trustrworthy

So my comment is not deleted by the inconsistent TL censor police

Get a grip u

behind

or better still,

get a grip on

behind

and stick head up

behind.
15:14 March 31, 2011 by Roy E
Gee, a celebration of stupidity! Isn't that cute.

These clowns should probably be thanking Facebook for saving them from their idiot selves.
15:34 March 31, 2011 by planet.sweden
It's clearly time for Björn Borg clothing to fire its advertising agency for woeful work. Assuming of course that the raisen detre of this campaign was to sell underwear and their target market is men, you do have to wonder how the ad folk imagined male customers would be attracted to the BB brand by pictures of some naked pillocks pratting about in the woods?

Or is it that Björn Borg clothing have decided that their key target market is gay?

Or maybe, maybe it's just that straight Swedish men are different from guys in the rest of the world and find this sort of thing appealing. The sad part is it wouldn't surprise me if this final scenario is in fact the correct one. There is after all an unusually large streak of narcism running through the males of Stockholm at least.
20:13 March 31, 2011 by EP
Why do adverts always show naked men in Sweden. I always suspected most of the Swedish men were gay, and this just adds more proof I would say.

When will we see the mythical (and over-hyped) hot Swedish girls naked for a change?
01:14 April 1, 2011 by Tanskalainen
I hope that guy washed his left hand.
05:27 April 1, 2011 by hlmencken56
Of course, the typical TV watching pervert living in western liberal democracies would have a difficult time seeing a problem with this. Hey it's just naked guys! Never mind, that's it's not end act of a civilized gentlemen. It's a display of decadence, and the abuse of freedom provided to them by those who suffered great pains creating a free society. The anything goes, government take care of me paradigm is coming to an end, it can't come fast enough.
11:16 April 1, 2011 by karinBM
I like it, totally innocent and happy looking.
13:50 April 1, 2011 by laura ka baal
@Trustworthy

you should rub gel on all the openings , i think you need them badly.
17:49 April 1, 2011 by karinBM
I thougt it was only the men who had dirty fantasies, and so comes laura ka baal and proves me wrong.
18:36 April 1, 2011 by MissSweden1954
Not all Americans are violent prudes! Some of us are just violent. Some of us are just prudes. And the rest of us are leaving to join the anti-feminist "Viking" tribe in Northern Sweden.
19:06 April 1, 2011 by munched
Porn? sheesh..
09:12 April 2, 2011 by zerotolerancenow
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
14:50 April 3, 2011 by Jaffo1970
If this was a picture of Swedish women (goddesses) I would say OHYEAH! But who wants to look at homos? Sorry, I am a redneck from America. Long live Sweden!
01:50 April 4, 2011 by soultraveler3
It's a cute ad. :)

We're not all prudes. I actually think it's an age thing, I'm 30 and can't think of anyone besides my a couple of my aunts that would find this offensive.
21:14 April 29, 2011 by GioBruno
As an American, I can't see anything wrong with a couple of naked guys playing with underwear in the woods. It's silly: it's certainly not anything close to pornographic. I will admit that it would not make it on any broadcast T.V. in the US, though it would be run in many magazines. I think most Americans would prefer both bombs AND/OR nipples honestly, and can get that on cable stations. As to cultural imperialism, all I can say is, tough. Design something better, that more people want to use, and be ruthlessly Swedish in your own cultural imperialism. I don't care. It's not as if we're talking real, old-style imperialism. Our Marines haven't landed on your beaches last I checked. Your Air Force is still intact and there's no U.S. garrison in downtown Stockholm issuing orders stripping your country of it's wealth. Anyone notice the three Carrier Battle groups off your coast? No? Me neither. So spare me the whining about cultural imperialism. Compete. You have a target audience of one, me, to start with. I spend lots of time looking for english language, foreign sites precisely because I want to learn of other cultures, and I'm not alone. So smile, stop bitching and compete.
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