If we’re not careful, we’ll censor ourselves to death.
A Belgian tourist board posted an open letter to Facebook this week after the social media site took down several images of religious paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, a famous Flemish artist from the 17th century, USA Today reported.
Rubens is known for his depictions of semi-nude adults and cherubs.
The most recent victim of Facebook’s strict censorship policy was Rubens’ “The Descent from the Cross,” which depicts a semi-nude Jesus, who is wearing a loincloth, being taken down from the cross after the crucifixion.
— Ted Gioia (@tedgioia) July 23, 2018
The Flanders-based board, Toerisme Vlaanderen, was posting the photos to promote one of its new exhibits, “Paintings by Flemish Masters.”
Several Flemish museums and cultural institutions came together to jointly reprimand Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for his network’s censorship of Rubens’ iconic work.
“The bare breasts and buttocks painted by our artist are considered by [Facebook] to be inappropriate,” the letter stated in part. “Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life difficult for us.”
Nevertheless, the board is having a little fun with the social-media hiccup. The art agency posted a satirical video to YouTube mocking Facebook’s content policy.
In the one-minute-long parody, visitors to the Rubens House museum in Antwerp are forced to leave the facility after looking at paintings depicting nudity. Those, though, without a Facebook account are permitted to remain in the gallery.
This is not the first time Facebook has faced backlash for removing a religious advertisement due to offending content.
In April, the website pulled an ad that showed Jesus on the cross, describing the artistic rendering as “excessively violent.” Facebook eventually admitted it was a “mistake” to remove the image, which was part of a campaign for the Franciscan University of Steubenville.