Facebook backtracks after censoring nude Caravaggio painting

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Facebook backtracks after censoring nude Caravaggio painting
Amor Vincit Omnia depicts a naked Cupid. Image: Public Domain/WikiCommons

Social media giant Facebook has backtracked on a decision to censor a painting by Italian artist Caravaggio, on the grounds that the nudity violated the site's rules.


Milan-based art promoter Hamilton Moura Filho had posted an image of the artwork, Amor Vincit Omnia (Love Conquers All), along with a comment about the painting's history.

But his post was swiftly removed by Facebook, with the social network notifying Filho that it had violated the site's "Community Standards" due to the nudity of the painting's subject, Cupid. 

Filho's account was also blocked for several hours.

The offending painting shows a boyish Cupid leaning against a table and smiling, while surrounded by objects representing human achievements. Painted in 1602, it is noted among art historians for its realism - rather than being idealized, the Cupid figure has crooked teeth - but apparently it was just too realistic for Facebook's liking.

The art enthusiast labelled the incident "an outrage against history and culture" and called on other leading figures in the art world to support him in challenging Facebook's decision.

"This is a very important work in art history, and I want to take legal action to protest this censorship," Filho told La Repubblica on Monday evening.

Legal action is likely to be unnecessary however; Filho later said that Facebook had apologized for blocking his page and reinstated his account. 

"My Facebook is a place to share art and culture. Art is a medicine against ignorance," he said, thanking numerous prominent art historians and museum directors for their support.

Facebook's guidelines over nudity have created controversy before. Two months ago, Facebook reversed its decision to censor an iconic photograph from the Vietnam War, which shows a young naked girl running from a Napalm bombing.

Norwegian author and journalist had complained of censorship after his post containing the photo was deleted, prompting a national outcry as leading newspaper editors and even Norway's Prime Minister called on Facebook to rethink the decision.



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