Facebook's breast police censor famous art museum

The Jeu De Paume in Paris posts an artful photograph that happens to feature a topless woman on Facebook. Its account has its head cut off.

Jeu De Paume/Facebook

A rose is still a rose by any other name.

The same, as far as Facebook is concerned, goes for a breast.

The company's breast police don't offer leeway, as some of your local policemen do.

When they see a breast, they not only incise it, they also slice the account that harbors it from the Facebook community.

The latest to hang their heads in horror are the social networkers of the Jeu De Paume, a highly respected art museum in Paris.

In all Gallic innocence, they posted an extremely artistic photograph of a blonde lady covered merely in a sheet.

This sheet was artfully positioned, yet not so artfully that the lady's bare breasts were invisible.

As WorldCrunch translates from France's Le Nouvel Observateur, the breast police, on seeing this brazen artistry on display, shut the account down for 24 hours.

Facebook's policemen and women perhaps had to study the photograph in far greater detail in the depths of their own privacy.

Some might find that describing Facebook's policy toward breasts as lunacy would be insulting to lunatics.

The company explains that it is merely a medium like any other and therefore follows certain standards.

Yet the amount of sheer hate which Facebook allows on its site -- the company defends it as "free speech" -- might boggle certain reasonable minds and certainly wouldn't grace The New York Times.

From Holocaust Denial groups to "I Hate Those Indian Muslims Who Love Pakistan," the company insists that it may personally find such groups repellent, but defends their right to express extreme views.

Yet a highly respected museum is unable to post precisely the sorts of images that highly respected museums house on a regular basis.

The photograph in question -- "L'Etude du Nu" ("Nude Study") -- was posted to advertise the retrospective of French photographer Laure Albin Guillot.

On its Facebook page, the museum has thanked posters who protested against the yanking.

Its message adds: "This discussion ought to provoke Facebook's administrators to reconsider their position. To not be able to differentiate between an artistic image and a pornographic one is a dubious fudging and, most of all, a dangerous one."

Oh, Jeu De Paume.

This is the company that once confused elbows for breasts.

It once even censored a doll's nipples.

Quite naturally, I asked Facebook to keep me abreast of its thinking.

I asked the company's spokesman, Fred Wolens, whether it might represent a certain maturity in allowing a museum to post an artistic image on its own Facebook page, where fans are unlikely to be shocked.

He told me that "unfortunately" Facebook allows nude paintings, but not photography.

Unfortunately, there is a large monetary aspect behind Facebook's blanket nude policy.

Wolens told me: "With reviewers all over the world dealing with millions of reports a month, it's difficult to distinguish between art and pornography from either a policy or practical level."

Yes, it would cost a lot to ascertain that a world-famous museum wasn't, in fact, posting porn.

In the meantime, supporters of the museum continue to fulminate on the museum's Facebook page.

One, Julien Eveille, accuses the site of "American puritanism."

Some might find it odd that, with Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg in such a senior position, the site is unable to offer a little more nuance to its treatment of the female body.

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