Protesters gathered outside of Facebook’s Headquarters highlighting the injustice of gender inequality regarding the company’s nudity policies.
On this particular Sunday morning, from Astor Place, you would have gotten an eye-full as the sun slowly rose. Approximately 125 people decided to pose naked outside the headquarters to challenge the company’s suppression of artistic nudity.
Participants covered their nipples with stickers of photographed male nipples which were provided by different celebrities including Andy Cohen, Andres Serrano, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, Tunick, Adam Goldberg, and Mpagi Sepuya.
The group worked with the National Coalition Against Censorship to point out their rigid and old-fashioned gender inequality that exists within Facebook’s policies. It’s deemed acceptable that men can go bare-chested but not women.
Both Facebook and Instagram are on the same page regarding their policies. It seems their policies accept images of nipples when a woman is giving birth, breastfeeding, or revealing scars from a mastectomy.
Global policy management, Monika Bickert marked this up to safety and consent. She told Business Insider, that it’s very difficult to determine the age of a person or to determine their consent. On top of that, even if it’s obvious the person gave their consent to a photo, did they give consent for the image to be shared?
The NCAC argued that various platforms such as Instagram, have global audiences so banning all photographs of nude human bodies is an outdated and old-fashioned position of shame and censorship. There never seems to be a problem in artwork found in museums or art galleries, just on social media.
Tunick, the leader behind the Sunday Protest said the work he’s allowed to post is essentially different from the work he made. He said every pixelated nipple only succeeds in sexualizing censored work. He also added that censorship actually breaks his spirit.
That said, YouTube has allowed for artistic nudity for a long time after changing their policies more than 10 years ago which seems to have taken place after the NCAC and EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation ) stepped in.
Will Facebook and Instagram reverse their standing anytime soon?
NCAC sent a letter to Bicker requesting they change their stance to welcome and respect the arts. Director Christopher Finan believes there are many solutions and suggested that individual users have the ability to create filters to screen or block images.
As of Monday, the NCAC said that the #WeTheNipple had been blocked on Instagram and over 500 images supporting the art have been removed. A spokesperson for Facebook said they have been in touch with the NCAC and look forward to keeping an open dialogue with them and other groups for more details and information.
I guess, only time will tell if both sides of the aisle can come to a compromise. Nudity is a difficult issue for all involved. Artistic expression should always have a place while censorship in an effort to protect younger people should be heard as well.