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Flemish museums mocked Facebook for censoring Peter Paul Rubens’ nudes



Paul Rubens is one of the Flemish Masters.

Musea en Erfgoed Antwerpen/Wikimedia

  • Facebook has been ridiculed for censoring nude
    paintings by the Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens.
  • A group of Flemish museums penned a playful letter to
    CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking to discuss the matter.
  • The Flemish tourist board also made a video poking fun
    at Facebook, showing social media agents preventing art gallery
    goers from looking at nude paintings.

For hundreds of years, Flemish master painter Peter Paul Rubens
has been famous for his “fleshy” nude paintings. But now they
have been censored on Facebook.

The Flemish tourist office has written a tongue-in-cheek open
letter to Mark Zuckerberg, signed by most museums in the Belgian
region of Flanders.

The letter claims that Facebook systematically rejects Rubens’
artworks, and asks whether the artist’s depictions of “breasts,
buttocks and cherubs” are truly indecent in nature. The letter
says that although they have to laugh about the censorship, it is
making their lives difficult.

The signatories write that they would like to showcase the
Flemish Masters and Flanders tourism on Facebook, as art-lovers
use the platform. “Art connects, just like social media,” they
wrote. The letter also posits that had Rubens had Facebook, he
would have had a big fan page.

Facebook does not blanket ban artistic nudes on its platform, but
adverts are not allowed to contain
“adult content,” which includes nudity
— even when artistic
in nature.

To illustrate its point, the Flemish tourist board published a
video featuring “social media police agents” who physically block
gallery-goers with a Facebook account from viewing nude

The chief executive of the Flemish tourist office
told the Guardian:
“Unfortunately, promoting our unique
cultural heritage on the world’s most popular social network is
impossible right now.”

According to the Guardian, Facebook had accepted an offer from
the Flemish tourist office to talk about the matter. Facebook
declined to comment when contacted by Business Insider.

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