Facebook criticised for blocking photo of 16th century Italian statue as ‘explicitly sexual’

Facebook is facing new criticism for its photo blocking policy after an image of a famed Italian statue of the god Neptune has been banned.

The photo of the Jean Boulogne, or Giambologna mid-sixteenth century fountain in Bologna was uploaded by writer Elisa Barbari.


Barbari says she was asked to remove the image by Facebook because it is “explicitly sexual”.

The photo was uploaded to her page ‘Stories, curiosities and views of Bologna’.

Barbari appealed against the decision to block the image, but received an email from Facebook defending the decision.

“The use of images or video of nude bodies or plunging necklines is not allowed, even if the use is for artistic or educational reasons,” reads the email obtained by CNN.

Speaking to the news service, Barbari called the decision “ridiculous”.

She said: “The statue is shown from behind, not even as a close up, it’s in the distance. It’s ridiculous… At first I was angry. Then I was surprised, I couldn’t understand why they don’t want to clarify. It’s absurd.

“In the past, I have flagged inappropriate content to Facebook myself — fake news, violence on animals… Things that really need to be censured, not art. I don’t know what to think, it’s ridiculous.”

Going on, she adds: “I am guessing this hasn’t landed on Zuckerberg’s desk yet. There is nothing vulgar in a work of art.”

A statement from Facebook said: “Our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads. This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologise for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad.”

Barbari is still pushing for Facebook to reverse the decision saying “it would be the happy ending” to the story.