Facebook courted another controversy after an art historian claimed it blocked a photo of Italy’s famous Neptune statue for being “sexually explicit”. The social media giant later termed the censorship a mistake, media reports said. Elisa Barbari, a local writer, chose the statue to illustrate her Facebook page, called “Stories, curiosities and views of Bologna”, the Daily Telegraph reported on Monday.
The 16th century statue of the sea god dominates Piazza del Nettuno, a grand square in the heart of Bologna.
But the social media giant objected to the image, which shows a naked Neptune — Nettuno in Italian — holding a large trident.
“I wanted to promote my page but it seems that for Facebook the statue is a sexually explicit image that shows off too much flesh. Really, Neptune? This is crazy!” Barbari told the Telegraph.
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Facebook told her that “the use of the image was not approved because it violates Facebook’s guide lines on advertising”.
“It presents an image with content that is explicitly sexual and which shows to an excessive degree the body, concentrating unnecessarily on body parts. The use of images or video of nude bodies or plunging necklines is not allowed, even if the use is for artistic or educational reasons,” Facebook said.
A Facebook spokesperson later said in a statement that the censorship was a mistake, the Guardian reported.
“Our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads. This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologise for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Over the past year Facebook found itself in the midst of several controversies for prohibiting seemingly innocuous images, and also for the spread of fake news on the social media platform.
Recently, it was criticised for removing an iconic photograph of a girl fleeing a Napalm attack taken during the Vietnam war. However, Facebook later allowed the photo to be posted on the platform.