Sharon Adams, a 45 year old mother of four in Reading, England, underwent a mastectomy in March and wanted to show the need for women both to have regular check-ups and not to feel shame should they endure such awful surgery. So she posted four photos on Facebook revealing the right side of her body and a nasty scar from the removal of her breast all for a noble cause - 24 hours later Facebook removed the photos for being "sexual and abusive."
Many found this hard to believe. The photos were to raise awareness, they were not rude and certainly not abusive in any way, shape or form. Ms Adams summed it up nicely in an interview with the Daily Mail stating: "For Facebook to claim they were sexual and abusive was absurd. Facebook has online groups about sexual positions and some groups which are bordering on racist--but they ban this."
When a Facebook page was created saying, 'Get Sharon Adams Picture Back on Facebook' a Facebook official, Simon Axten replied: "Our User Operations team reviews thousands of reported photos a day and may occasionally remove something that doesn't actually violate our policies. This is what happened here. We apologize for the mistake and encourage Sharon to upload these photos again if she so chooses. Thanks."
Facebook's policy is loud and clear: "Photos and videos containing nudity, drug use, or other graphic content are not allowed." As we discovered in Sharon's case the parameters of nudity are also strict. These include if photos depict:
1. Genitalia, bare butts, female nipple
2. Sex toys
3. Black-barred or pixelated images of otherwise violating nudity
It would seem that Facebook's conservative rule about nudity was not violated because Ms Adam's areola (the darker part of the nipple) is not actually visible given that she now has a scar across the right side of her chest.
Daniel Sprick, an artist from Colorado, was not as fortunate as Ms Adams. He received a 'warning email' from Facebook stating that several of his artwork pictures of nude women had been removed for violating the websites policies. For visual artists this is murky water. Sprick certainly would not term his work as 'pornographic' or 'obscene'. In fact the pictures would only be accessible to those who had friended him on Facebook, all of whom would know of his occupation as an artist, including his 80 year old grandmother and his daughter.
Although one can't help but think this is Facebook's policy for PHOTOS. Surely artwork should be considered a picture in its own right. In response Simon Axten stated: "Our policy prohibits photos of actual nude people, not paintings or sculptures. We recognize that this policy might in some cases result in the removal of artistic works; however, it is designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users."
So there we have it - considering the number of Facebook users under 13 the policy is reasonable and acceptable. It does present a problem for artists but in this day and age there are other websites to set up on. Daniel Sprick set up an online exhibition of his nudes at OpenMuseum.org, which is a site that offers artists and viewers social networking features.
As Ms Adams stated, there are several offensive and sexually explicit groups on Facebook, but it appears that a picture speaks a thousand words and therefore must have stricter rules and regulations. However following the scandal of 24 year old Emma Jones, a Welsh teacher who committed suicide after an unknown party posted naked photos of her on Facebook; it is no wonder Facebook employees are quick to be so vigilant.