Feeds

Facebook follows papal line on censorship

The whole internet is one giant penis room

High performance access to file storage

What do the Pope and Facebook have in common? They both abhor public displays of nudity.

Facebook though may not go to quite the lengths of one medieval pope, who allegedly sponsored the mass removal of every penis (of the statuary sort) in the Vatican - thereby giving rise to the legend of the papal penis room, where the removed organs were then stored.

In fairness to Facebook, it claims that its latest censoring of nakedness on the net owes more to human error than nanny corporatism.

According to Elinor Mills, a writer for CNET, a photo of Bliss Dance, a work of art, recently exhibited at the Nevada Burning Man event was this week removed from Facebook because, according to Facebook, the image violated the site's terms of use, which ban the posting of photos that contain nudity.

As with other stories of inconsistent Facebook intervention – most recently, our own questioning of Facebook about its failure to ban a group that incited violence in Serbia - this decision was swiftly reversed after CNET contacted Facebook to demand explanation.

Facebook informed the poster: "Our reviewers look at thousands of photos a day that are reported to them. Of course, they make an occasional mistake.

"This is just an example. Our compliments to the artist--the statue is quite lifelike. We encourage the person who uploaded the photo to repost it and apologize for any inconvenience."

A spokeswoman for Facebook in the UK was unable to add any more to that statement, beyond suggesting that there were of course exemptions to the no-nakedness policy for certain categories of objects. However, this is not obvious from a close reading of the site's terms and conditions.

What, then, of that pesky papal penis room? The idea that at least one Pope – allegedly the 19th century Pius IX – required that pagan statues have their willies lopped off is one that has frequently been propagated by tour guides, and is just as resolutely denied by Catholic officialdom. Whether it really happened or is mere urban myth remains up for debate.

The Vatican is not, however, wholly innocent in matters of censorship, having come in for much criticism from art historians for its "censorship" of paintings by artists such as Michaelangelo.

The question of how we treat nakedness has a serious side to it, with many arguing that by automatically equating the unclothed body with sex and porn, it is Facebook and the Church that is sexualising and objectifying our view of the world.

Avedon Carol, founding member of Feminists against Censorship, told us: "It [the censorship] is obscene."

She went on: “There’s a famous quote from Marilyn Chambers who points out that in American video and TV you can show a breast being cut or shot but you can’t show it being kissed.

"Its not about protecting anyone from sex: its about making sex dirty and keeping it dirty. They may pretend that they are not being anti-sex – but they are and there is no reason that sex should be stigmatised in that way. Sex isn’t the problem." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Oz bank in comedy Heartbleed blog FAIL
Bank: 'We are now safely patched.' Customers: 'You were using OpenSSL?'
Forget the beach 'n' boardwalk, check out the Santa Cruz STEVE JOBS FOUNTAIN
Reg reader snaps shot of touching tribute to Apple icon
Happy 40th Playmobil: Reg looks back at small, rude world of our favourite tiny toys
Little men straddle LOHAN, attend tiny G20 Summit... ah, sweet memories...
Lego is the TOOL OF SATAN, thunders Polish priest
New minifigs like Monster Fighters are turning kids to the dark side
Dark SITH LORD 'Darth Vader' joins battle to rule, er, Ukraine
Only I can 'make an empire out of a republic' intones presidential candidate
Chinese company counters pollution by importing fresh air
Citizens line up for bags of that sweet, sweet mountain air
Google asks April Fools: Want a job? Be our 'Pokemon Master'
Mountain View is prankin' like it's 1999...
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.