Instagram and Facebook lack education in art

It has happened before and lots has been written about it. Still!

We’ve got to keep on pounding the argument: It is not acceptable that Facebook and Instagram practices censorship of art works.

It’s about the usual, bizarre doze of American puritanism. Remember that President Clinton was close to impeachment for his affair with Monica Lewinsky but not for his bombings in Yugoslavia without a UN mandate, the bombings in Afghanistan and Sudan. He was the one who broke all promises to President Gorbachev in Moscow and began the fateful expansion of NATO and it was Clinton who upheld the sanctions on Iraq after 500.000 innocent Iraqi women and children had died.

But it is also about modern technology, about image recognition by AI, or whatever methods they use. Unfortunately, these technologies cannot see the difference between a woman’s breasts in a renaissance painting and one in an image of pornography.

Until other methods are practiced by Facebook/Instagram, I shall deem it censorship based on illiteracy about art and culture with the aim of being politically correct within the framework of North American puritanism.

Only human can. But then they would not have enough human beings sitting and browsing billions of photos and other images on Instagram and Facebook.

These judgements leading to deletion are bound to go wrong – unless, of course, Facebook/Instagram is that far out that they consider any and every picture of the naked human body pornographic. I wouldn’t be that surprised if some do at 1 Hacker Way in Menlo Park, California.

And, third, it is about censorship. There is enough evidence out there that Google – Search, Maps, Gmail, YouTube, etc. – track you and see everything you do to an extent that would make the old East German Stasi green of envy.

Facebook practices censorship and Mr. Zuckerberg has written and spoken about it. More than enough. It is always in the name of the common good. Facebook is already known for being dilletantes when it comes to politics; they work with pro-NATO organisations such as the Atlantic Council to publish only what they think is politically reliable and correct views. Some of us know that that is as political as can be.

It’s of course very nice to try to protect certain communities – say Islamic countries and their social media users – from being exposed to images that are not permitted according to religious criteria. (Find the “community” standards here).

But should that hit the rest of us? Should that consideration imply that large parts of Western classical and contemporary arts are excluded/deleted.

With all the modern technologies, would it not be possible to let users decide for themselves and press a button in Settings in case they want to avoid images of the nude body? Of course, it would! And the personal choice would be in harmony with Western liberal values.

Would it not be possible to do what Facebook and many media do – namely to put up a warning that what you’re going to see in this video is of an explicit nature? Of course, it would!

Until other methods are practices by Facebook/Instagram, I shall deem it censorhip based on illiteracy about art and culture with the aim of being politically correct within the framework of North American puritanism.

Here is a recent case of mine, a greeting from Instagram:

And what had I posted? This video:

Video of Nyari’s work by Jan Oberg

I shot it at the exhibition “Personal Structures. Identities” at the European Cultural Centre at Palazzo Mora, an exhibition in the context of the Venice Biennale 2019! It large art photographs by Reka Nyari, Finland, from the series “Mother Ink” (2019).

To take down a short video of such a fine series of art photography from an exhibition associated with the world’s indisputably most important event for contemporary art, the Venice Biennale, is – well, simply a scandal. But Instagram doesn’t see itself as a kind of contemporary – pathetic – Victorian morality media it is.

And – isn’t that funny – the same video still sits at my Oberg PhotoGraphics page on Facebook, published automatically from my Instagram Business account, as you can see. So where it the logics?

And if you want more fun – see Reka Nyari’s Instagram page here and how she gets around censorship.

Conclusion: Don’t censor. Give people the choice to receive or not receive/see images according to their cultural, religious, aesthetic and whatever other values. After all, Instagram is not a children’s site and adults need no self-appointed corporate nannyism.

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About the Author JO

Welcome to my official personal home. I'm a peace researcher and art photographer.

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