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Swedish museum takes aim at Facebook censor

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 27 Jun 2011, 13:40

Published: 27 Jun 2011 13:40 GMT+02:00

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"We censored the photographs because Facebook removed our pictures," said Fotografiska spokesperson Jens Hollingby to The Local on Monday.

The photographs in question are by the controversial US photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and form part of a major new exhibition of his work which recently opened at the museum.

Hollingby told The Local that Facebook is an important channel for the museum to market its exhibitions and to conduct a dialogue with its fans and the decision to censor the Mapplethorpe nudes was taken with this in mind.

"Our purpose was to bring attention to the issue and to open a discussion," he said.

Beneath the photographs, which are censored with a large blue rectangle with the text "facebook-friendly square", the museum has explained its position:

"Facebook thinks that naked bodies cause offence. They remove our photos. For them, it does not matter if it is art or not. I you would like to see the photos in their full glory, we invite you to visit us."

Hollingby explained however that there is some understanding for the US social networking site's stringent censorship practices.

"It is a company which is all over the world; values differ and do not always meet with our Swedish values. We understand their position, but at the same time we don't think that it is right," he said.

This is not the first time liberal Swedish values have fallen foul of the Facebook censor in recent months.

In March clothing firm Björn Borg found that a pic of two naked men cavorting in an autumnal Scandinavian wood had been erased from the their page and in May a Swedish film distributor's attempt to use an image of two women kissing in an advertising campaign suffered the Facebook veto.

Story continues below…

Facebook's no nudity policy furthermore stretches beyond the realms of photography with Anders Zorn's 1905 painting 'The Girl in the Loft' chopped from a page run by the Danish performance artist Uwe Max Jensen in March due to the expanses of naked female flesh on view.

Those interested in viewing the selection of Robert Mapplethorpe's work in its entirety are invited to visit the museum before the exhibition closes on October 2nd 2011.

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Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:11 June 27, 2011 by muscle
Why the hell are some Swedish so crazy about nudity?
15:46 June 27, 2011 by Scorch

What's wrong with nudity?
16:38 June 27, 2011 by zmoke
I'm naked under my clothes!!! whoa!!

Obviously in Soviet States of America people are scared of naked people.
17:11 June 27, 2011 by Atlas
I think is time we, Europeans hold Facebook accountable and demand that they allow our cultural and social norms being displayed on Facebook pages and profiles...If Zuckeberg is afraid of sexuality, certainly the 499.999.999 aren't...We must end this crazy censorship from Facebook...
17:21 June 27, 2011 by redfish
Eh. Facebook should at least follow the standards of a school library if their interest is remaining 'family friendly'. A school library wouldn't censor the majority of nudity in art.
11:54 June 28, 2011 by Roy E
If you don't like Facebook's policy, consider it a business opportunity, start your own social networking site, and put them out of business.

If you're not up for that, there are plenty of porn sites you can visit to exercise your priorities.
15:17 June 28, 2011 by xjyxjy
Nudity is natural, clothes are decoration. Forcing anyone to wear clothes, of any kind, is cultural terrorism. Neo-puritan bigots and witch-hunters rule large parts of the world and are infecting most of the healthy bits that are left. Ownership is no excuse - when ownership is an effective monopoly (like Facebook) and is used to impose inhuman policies, it needs to be broken. Strangling expression is inhuman. Freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of expression. Art is a representation of real life, not real life itself.
01:10 June 29, 2011 by nimshubur
Facebook is a private enterprise, and entitled to set their own rules. If you don't like them, go somewhere else.

As for the "art" in question, Mapplethorpe is not exactly the poster boy for high art in the 21st century. He is, and always has been, a middling-to-expert pornographer.
17:13 June 29, 2011 by abraham lezama

wow, my vote for you, can I copy that?
20:52 June 29, 2011 by jacquelinee
Facebook is accessed by millions of people worldwide and millions of those are children. I for one am thrilled to know there is at least one site kids can go to that still demonstrates some morals and ethics.


Yes nudity is natural, but not everyone wants to see your nudity or mine or many others. I am so fed up and bored with trying to do work online, search for a movie, book, home, plant species, pet, cd, game, greeting card etc etc ETC and being confronted at every page by Boobs, Butts,Pen-ses, s-xual positions, s-xual deviations etc etc ETC. Facebook is a VERY refreshing change and I can chat with my friends without some bubble coming up with a some pretty much naked preteen or some hideously plastic chested girl, stating" Hey, Wanna hook up?" or something similar or more twisted.

Every now ang again something a bit weird gets in but, for the most part, Facebook is a place where kids and adults can still meet online and not be forced to be exposed to overt sexuality right up in their faces. Facebook should be commended and awarded for their integrity. If you want porn...go to a porn site, GOD KNOWS there are enough of THEM.

Frankly, if I want to see T&A, I will go look in a mirror.
15:04 July 6, 2011 by comentatir
They should be glad with the censor decision! I am sure the artist is happy. This controversy is the drive behind his art so this museum is fed on such discussion. So this complaining thing is an unconscious setup!

And how arrogant is it to say something that means "We know that not all of the world is as liberal as Sweden" If the rest of the world was like Sweden this art could not have existed and you would not have a role as you have now. So you owe your existence to this censor. B)
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