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Indian Artists Demand Internet Giants to Change Stance on Nudity

Its policy team, along with artists, art educators, museum curators, activists as well as Facebook employees, has decided to examine how to better serve artists, including considering a new approach to nudity guidelines

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FILE - Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

By Radhika Parashar

As artists across the world take to streets against the social networking platforms’ unfair policies towards art-based nudity, the Indian community of artists has come out in their support, detailing their own experiences and demanding the digital platforms to have a clear differentiation between vulgarity and art.

In a protest this month, nearly 100 people stripped naked holding pictures of nipples in their hands in front of Facebook’s New York headquarters, demanding allowance to showcase artistic nudity on the popular apps. The campaign was outlandishly titled #WeTheNipple.

Another protest in June saw international porn artists gather outside Instagram’s Silicon Valley headquarters, describing the nudity-censorship rules of Facebook and its family of apps “vague, inconsistent and threatening to their livelihood”.

The move has been hailed by international photographers, painters, models and screen artists from around the world. including in India.

“I obviously understand that Facebook and Instagram want to avoid ‘vulgar’ content on their platforms, but scrapping off art-based nudity is affects artists very seriously,” fashion photographer Soumya Iyer told IANS.

“Just like everyone else, we also want to showcase our work and build ourselves our own brand on Facebook and Instagram because of their global reach and popularity but it’s sad that fine-art is neither accepted nor respected,” said Rohan Tulpule, a fine art photographer who has faced consequences of ‘unfair’ censorship rules against his work multiple times.

Recollecting her own experiences on suffering damages, Iyer said: “My series called ‘gender of beauty’ was taken down because of the display of nipples. Instagram is such a huge platform and artists can really make use of its power of engagement! I don’t understand why the display of a woman’s nipple has become a matter of shame”.

Known for his bold photo-series like “Life Through Holes” and “The Plus Size Of Life,” Tulpule added: “Hashtags help us increase our reach but if we use hashtags like #fineart and #nudephotograph, our post comes into notice and gets deleted under ‘policy violation’. We get restricted from all activities on the platforms. The platforms have to understand that all nudity is not vulgarity”.

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FILE – The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

According to conceptual performance artist Inder Salim, “nothing is more scary when imaginary uniform sets of rules are imposed on all to suppress all those atavistic tendencies in us.”

As part of its community guidelines, Facebook-owned Instagram says “for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity” on their platform — including “photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples.”

However, the platform fails to elaborate the exact extent of “some photos” of female nipples it discourages on its app.

Last week, Facebook was slammed for banning Grammy-nominated British rock band Led Zeppelin’s 1973 album “Houses of the Holy” cover that features nude children. Later, admitting that the image was “culturally significant”, Facebook restored the image.

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According to actor-model Milind Soman, who stirred major controversies after he stripped naked for a photo-shoot way back in 1995, accepted that tough social media policies that lack distinction between artistic and vulgar nudity is not favourable for artists in this digital era.

“It’s their platform, their policies and their call. What is artistic and what is vulgar on their platform is up to them to decide because after all, it is their business to be profitable (first),” Soman told IANS.

The global demonstrations have convinced Facebook to re-think its stance on artistic nudity.

Its policy team, along with artists, art educators, museum curators, activists as well as Facebook employees, has decided to examine how to better serve artists, including considering a new approach to nudity guidelines. (IANS)

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Facebook Agrees to Re-think on Policies Around Artistic Nudity

Along with NCAC and world-renowned American artist Spencer Tunick, members of women’s rights group ‘Grab Them By The Ballot’ also took part in the demonstration

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FILE - The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

Facebook has agreed to re-think its stance of artistic nudity after an outcry of people protesting naked in front of the social networking giant’s New York headquarters against the company’s policies against the same.

Facebook has confirmed that it would meet the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and other stakeholders to discuss the subject, web portal PetaPixel reported.

NCAC launched the #WeTheNipple campaign in April to call for change in the policies of Facebook and Instagram to allow photographic artistic nudity.

According to a Facebook spokesperson, it is important for the company to hear directly from different communities who use apps from the company, like its photo-messaging app Instagram.

Following Facebook’s decision, the NCAC also released an official statement, announcing that it would collaborate with Facebook to ensure that the company’s policy is “well-informed by external experts and perspectives”.

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FILE – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at a Facebook developer conference in San Jose, California, May 1, 2018. VOA

The organisation said it was “excited to announce that Facebook’s policy team has committed to convening a group of stakeholders including artists, art educators, museum curators, activists, as well as Facebook employees, to examine how to better serve artists, including considering a new approach to nudity guidelines”.

About its current policies, the social networking giant said it restricts the display of nudity or sexual activity being considerate of some people who may be sensitive to this type of content.

However, on June 3, about 100 people stripped naked in front of Facebook’s New York headquarters with pictures of nipples in their hands as part of the #WeTheNipple protest.

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Along with NCAC and world-renowned American artist Spencer Tunick, members of women’s rights group ‘Grab Them By The Ballot’ also took part in the demonstration.

“Our nudity policies have become more nuanced over time. We understand that nudity can be shared for a variety of reasons, including as a form of protest, to raise awareness about a cause, or for educational or medical reasons. Where such intent is clear, we make allowances for the content,” Facebook’s community standards said. (IANS)