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Even Facebook Sometimes Must Have to Stand Naked

When is an apology not an apology? When it’s a lie. Unless you live completely off the grid (in which you wouldn’t be able to read this anyway) it would be impossible to miss the Facebook apology ad.

Facebook starts the ad telling all the wonderful things they set out to do for us. They follow admitting to only a poorly designed business plan. The ad concludes with this statement: “We’re committed to doing more to keep you safe and protect your privacy. So that we can all get back to what made Facebook good in the first place: friends. Because when this place does what it was built for, we all get a little closer.”

Alrighty then!

I’ve got a Facebook account. I’ve carefully cultivated it to include many like-minded friends. A large percentage of those are music fans, musicians, artists, poets, writers, photographers – all of legal age, most long of tooth like me. Imagine my surprise (NOT – this has happened before) when Facebook removed a post of mine for being “unacceptable for community standards.” The charge this time was nudity. So I did what I’ve done in the past when this happened. I lodged an appeal for a review. This takes seconds and in the past the result was always the same – Facebook reinstated the post within minutes. Not this time.

The offending post? A YouTube video of The Pixies “Bone Machine” picturing only the album cover art from their 1st album, Surfer Rosa, which has been re-released in multiple formats.

Wikipedia addresses the cover art: “Surfer Rosa’s cover artwork features a photograph of a topless ‘friend of a friend’ of the band, posing as a flamenco dancer, pitched against a wall which displays a crucifix and a torn poster. Simon Larbalestier, who contributed pictures to all Pixies album sleeves, decided to build the set because ‘we couldn’t find the atmosphere we wanted naturally.’ According to Larbalestier, Black Francis came up with the idea for the cover as he wrote songs in his father’s ‘topless Spanish bar’; Larbalestier added the crucifix and torn poster, and they ‘sort of loaded that with all the Catholicism.’ Commenting on the cover in 2005, Francis said, ‘I just hope people find it tasteful.’”

Surfer Rosa has been certified gold in three different countries, could be found in any decent record store in the late ’80s & ’90s, and easily on the Internet in the current century. The cover is pictured on a plethora of high profile music-related sites. In short, it meets community standards for art – not pornography.

After several days I received a reply from Facebook that my appeal had been denied. They offered a 2nd review, supplying a drop down box this time for me to plead my case. I sent them links for the Pixies’ Wikipedia page and another for the Wikipedia page covering nudes in art. From that page: “In one sense, a nude is a work of fine art that has as its primary subject the unclothed human body, forming a subject genre of art, in the same way as landscapes and still life. Unclothed figures often also play a part in other types of art, such as history painting, including allegorical and religious art, portraiture, or the decorative arts.”

I also did a copy & paste of the appeal and posted it on my Facebook timeline. The post for the Pixies page came with the same art as the video. The post for the art page came with a picture of Michelangelo’s David – with full penis exposure. I expected one of two things to happen – those posts would also be taken down and my account would be suspended. Or my original post would be re-instated. Neither has happened (yet?). Evidently Facebook doesn’t want to be in the position of censoring the world’s largest online encyclopedia.

I’ve pondered the situation for a half-day or so (getting pissed tends to throw one’s priorities out of wack). “Because when this place does what it was built for, we all get a little closer.” Huh?

I decided to check things out a little more. Seems there is an official Pixies page on Facebook. It’s been around for years. It has over 2 million “likes.” Out of those, 1.8 million “follow the page” (get new postings in their Facebook news feed). The profile picture? The same Surfer Rosa album cover. The cover photo? A page wide image of the album cover 3 more times in each re-release format.

This new illusion that Facebook is trying to sell – one where they are not totally profit driven – is a boldface lie. But they are keeping up with the times, though, in this regard – they even lie to themselves. To quote the good Reverend, Al Sharpton, “I gotcha!”

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