Facebook marks images of painted breast cancer survivors' chests as 'pornography'

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Date: 2011

Region: North America

Subject: Nudity, Political/Economic/Social Opinion,

Medium: Photography


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Artist: Michael Colanero

Confronting Bodies: Facebook

Dates of Action: October, 2011

Location: United States

Description of Artwork: The Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project employs survivors of the deadly disease volunteer models who have their chests painted in various brightly colored, inspirational patterns. The body art is then photographed.

The Incident: Participants (25 women so far) found that the photos of themselves that they proudly displayed on Facebook disappeared within a short period of time prior to their posting. Facebook reasoned that the images were a violation of its terms of use which state: 'You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.'

Results of Incident: The participants of The Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project and its supporters are collecting signatures in order to petition Facebook's ban on the images. Signatures may be submitted electronically at ThePetitionSite.com; their goal is to acquire 5,000 signatures. The incident raises issues of double standards enabled by the vague nature of Facebook's list of unacceptable content. Michael Colanero, the artist behind the project, pointed out that Facebook allows "Girls Gone Wild" to have a page, but yet bans the images he intentionally created to be non-sexual and child-safe (He hoped they would be used in oncology clinics and hospitals). One of the participants talked about the hypocrisy in terms of gender standards. If images of male chests with tattoos, etc. are allowed to be posted then why shouldn't women be allowed to share pictures of the artwork on their chests? The incident challenges the vague nature of the term 'pornography' and its subsequent abuse, forcing the public and Facebook to consider what might constitute free speech and public health advocacy as opposed to something deliberately indecent. It is notable that the inspirational messages in the form of comments on the image disappear with the picture itself.

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk 10/28/2011