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Facebook On Trial For Censoring French Vagina Painting

Well… it is called FACEbook.

Credit: askarim/Shutterstock

 In February 2011, French teacher Frédérick Durand-Baïssas posted a photo of Gustave Courbet’s famed masterpiece L’Origine du Monde to his Facebook page.

The picture, though not particularly glamourous, was one of French Realist painter Gustave Courbet’s most famous works of art. He later went on to influence impressionists and cubist. With such a big influence upon French culture it should surely warrant its place on social media sites.

However, after a brief 24 hours, Facebook deactivated Durand’s account for having shared content containing nudity.

Durand accused the of site deactivating his account “without warning or justification” and has since decided to sue the social network media for violating his freedom of expression, beginning a long legal battle back-and-forth for the last seven years.

As a US company Facebook fought to handle the case in the US,. However, in 2016 the Paris court ruled that that case will be handled in France on February the 1st.

Given that it was impossible to reactivate Durand’s account (as Facebook only keeps data from deleted accounts for 90 days). Durand is seeking 20,000 euros (around £18,000) in compensation.  

With the additional bonus of having Facebook rethink its stance regarding nudity.

(Image canoe.com insert Frédérick Durand-Baïssas)

In 2015, before the date of the trial, Facebook altered its rules to allow depictions of nudity in art work, however if present in photographs they will still be deleted.

Facebook wrote:  

“People sometimes share content containing nudity for reasons such as awareness campaigns or artistic projects. We restrict the display of nudity because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content – particularly because of their cultural background or age.”

However, Durand’s lawyer: Stéphane Cottineau, pressed the case by arguing that: “Facebook isn’t above the laws of France… The company must also respect laws relating to freedom of expression, which make up the foundation of our rights.”

Facebook’s director of public affairs wrote:

“L’Origine du Monde is an extremely meaningful painting that perfectly warrants its place on Facebook. It is important to us that Facebook continues to be a space that provides access to culture.”

Despite all this Facebook continues to deny having deactivated the account for reasons regarding nudity and claims that Stéphane Cottineau has not “offered any proof of a link” between the two events.

So what’s your opinion?
Is Facebook too restrictive of French culture? Or is Gustave Courbet’s painting just too taboo? 

To read more about developments in the art world, have a browse of our art section, or check out  below… 

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