Facebook apologises for censoring prehistoric Venus statue

Facebook has apologised for censoring an image of the 29,500-year-old "Venus of Willendorf" statue
Facebook has apologised for censoring an image of the 29,500-year-old "Venus of Willendorf" statue

Facebook apologised on Thursday for censoring the prehistoric "Venus of Willendorf" figurine, considered a masterpiece of the paleolithic era.

"Our advertising policies do not allow nudity or implied nudity but we have an exception for statues. Therefore, the ad with this image should have been approved," a spokeswoman for Facebook told AFP.

"We apologise for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad," she added.

The controversy began in December when Italian arts activist Laura Ghianda posted a picture of the artwork on the social networking site which went viral.

After it was censored she said that "this statue is not 'dangerously pornographic'. The war on human culture and modern intellectualism will not be tolerated."

Her outrage was echoed by Vienna's Natural History Museum, where the statue is displayed.

"Let the Venus be naked! Since 29,500 years she shows herself as prehistoric fertility symbol without any clothes. Now Facebook censors it and upsets the community," the museum said in a statement.

The 11-centimetre (4-inch) statue was discovered in the Austrian village of Willendorf in the early 20th Century.

It dates from the early stone age and is "the most popular and best-known prehistoric representation of a woman worldwide," according to the museum's director general Christian Koeberl.

Facebook is regularly criticised over content which it bans or indeed content it allows to be published.

On March 15, a French court is due to pronounce on the decision by the California-based social networking site to close the Facebook account of someone who posted a photo of 19th century French painter Gustave Courbet's "Origin of the World" painting, which depicts female genitalia.


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© 2018 AFP

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User comments

Mar 02, 2018
Damned if you do... Damned if you don't... Results in a bland, blinder constrained view of culture.

Frankly & Ernestly, anyone who considers these images to be sexually stimulating? Well, I guess it is a good thing those perverts are exposing themselves to the Public backlash.

There must be a qwazillion intentionally pornographic images available online. And that anyone is concerned about the images in this article, is truly pathetic.

Mar 03, 2018
I dont see how fertility effigies are any more obscene than pics of a human being nailed to a cross through his hands and feet.

Mar 03, 2018
No otto, you do not want to see what is worse, available on the web.

If you have been spared such visual and auditory horrors, you are a more fortunate person than myself.

I have resolutely self-censored where I search online. To spare myself any more accidental peeks at the truly depraved materials lurking across the internet.

Mar 04, 2018
"apparently black judging by her curly hair" Speculative, at best. It's so highly stylized that it could mean nothing at all. Sure, back then Europeans were darker, but curly hair isn't exclusive to Africans. It's like the giant Olmec figures with large lips and other features called African by some with agendas to pursue, but also reflect characteristics that are not uncommon among some local indigenous populations. If curly hair is what it represents, we still don't know if that comes from the local population or if it was copied from older figurines or stories transmitted from somewhere else.

Mar 05, 2018
Facebook is a prudish entity and inconsistant, more older people frequent face book now, is facebook going to censor our photographs containing wrinkles!

Mar 05, 2018
"Our advertising policies do not allow nudity or implied nudity but we have an exception for statues. Therefore, the ad with this image should have been approved," a spokeswoman for Facebook told AFP.


Interesting, not a user of the service myself but on a visit to Florence last year my wife tried to upload a picture of Michelangelo's David to FB, which was bounced due to the image containing nudity. A brutal cropping was required to get it past the digital censors.

Mar 05, 2018
Where's the problem ? Perhaps their AI algorithms made a classification error, why are you so mad about it ? You don't want our kids to be protected from adult content ?

And if you want them to hire humans to do the verification of every post or suspicious post, i'd rather have these people work in healthcare, manufacturing, science, etc. instead of wasting their time on such a stupid thing. Let the 99.9% efficient robots save us thousands and thousands of hours of a work that would turn anyone suicidal after a week and contributes close to nothing to society.

Mar 06, 2018
Culture is always a victim of the whiners who tote the Babble about the super magic sky daddy by the drunken stone age sheep herders to show to the stupids. They should get over their little sex problem. Maybe see a psychologist. Take meds for it.

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