back to article Facebook follows papal line on censorship

What do the Pope and Facebook have in common? They both abhor public displays of nudity. Facebook though may not go to quite the lengths of one medieval pope, who allegedly sponsored the mass removal of every penis (of the statuary sort) in the Vatican - thereby giving rise to the legend of the papal penis room, where the …


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  1. James 5

    WTF ?

    "a photo of Bliss Dance, a work of art, recently exhibited at the Nevada Burning Man event was this week removed from Facebook because, according to Facebook, the image violated the site's terms of use, which ban the posting of photos that contain nudity."

    Facebook morons: It's a sculpture ! It's not actually a living person. I know in your nasty little virtual world you have great difficulty in distinguishing anything that is real. I suspect that the "Dumb fucks" that Mark Zuckerberg referred to are the staffers at Facebook.

    It seems strange that everyone was so keen to get rid of the "totalitarian" Soviet states yet welcome on-line versions with open arms.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: WTF ?

      Well, strictly speaking it's still nudity, even if it's just a depiction thereof. It's a daft policy though regardless. And it's a wonderful sculpture.

      A friend of mine had a photo of a much, much, much ruder sculpture made from... parts of herself up on her Facebook a couple of years ago. It took them a surprisingly long time to tell her to take it down.

      1. Titus Technophobe

        Resistance is useless

        I just have to ask for her phone numeber?

      2. Giddy Kipper

        Pictures Sara ...

        ... or it didn't happen.

      3. Rafe


        "made from... parts of herself"

        Sounds painful, did she not need those parts anymore?

      4. Someone Else Silver badge

        The mind boggles

        "A friend of mine had a photo of a much, much, much ruder sculpture made from... parts of herself [...]"

        A sculpture made from parts of herself...the mind just boggles...

      5. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Just checking

        "a much, much, much ruder sculpture made from... parts of herself "

        Recycled amputated bodyparts?

      6. Geoff Campbell

        "Ceci n'est pas une pipe"

        Magrit had it right. Depictions of things are not the things themselves.

        I have to admit to also being interested in your "friend's" photo, Sarah. I mean, everyone should have a hobby and all, but as has been said, we need proof, I think.


        1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: "Ceci n'est pas une pipe"

          You can put those "quote marks" down right now. I'd introduce you to my friend but I fear you'd have some sort of coronary.

      7. No, I will not fix your computer

        Sounds gruesome....

        >>"A friend of mine had a photo of a much, much, much ruder sculpture made from... parts of herself [...]"

        Is her name Edwina Gein?

    2. paulll Bronze badge


      It seems strange that everyone was so keen to get rid of the "totalitarian" Soviet states yet welcome on-line versions with open arms.

      Yeah, it's sickening to see the toothless UN stand idly by while Zuckerberg marches hundreds of thousands of largely innocent people off to internment camps to be worked to death and buried in mass graves.

      Get a grip, ffs ...

    3. No, I will not fix your computer
      Thumb Up

      Re: WTF ?

      >>Facebook morons: It's a sculpture ! It's not actually a living person. I know in your nasty little virtual world you have great difficulty in distinguishing anything that is real. I suspect that the "Dumb fucks" that Mark Zuckerberg referred to are the staffers at Facebook.

      Although this is a rant, there in lies the truth (and the lies)

      In this "nasty little virtual world" what is real and what is not are blending, people who feel the need to draw a line between right and wrong will never be able to please everybody, hence the child porn laws which include the phrase "or appears to be a child". A photograph is not "real" but a representation of such, some artists can paint a life-like image, and animated films are becoming more and more life-like, CGI is better than it ever has been, and in a few years we'll no longer need physical actors, so given that "unreal" nature of the virtual actors should they be subject to the same censorship?

      Art has a "get out of jail" card when it comes to censorship, we've seen this on LP covers and sculptures, and what is 100% sure this get out of jail" card will be abused by people in the future, I'm not for censorship, but I'm also for protecting the public (OK, I'll say it, think of the children), Arsebook obviously draws the line in the wrong place occasionally (and not many people compain when they take down pictures of erect penises), but this is going to get really tough in the future.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        it's simple

        Was someone harmed or abused making it?

        If not - it shouldn't be able to land you in prison.

        Seen as there is no evidence of the causality of such material (if it is drawn/cgi/etc) there is no reason to condemn people for it.

        The origonal cp laws were brought in becouse they were photographs of actual acts.

        I always find it interesting that people are quite willing to believe that images of children (anyone under 18) being abused (any kind of potentially sexual act) will drive men to commiting such acts. Do they think that children (under 18's) are so damn sexy that men just can't control themselves when a man realises that under the clothes theres a body waiting to be ravaged?

        Personally, I think that the number of people that see nude children and think "holy shit I need to go and rape a kid, NAOW!" is pretty close to zero percent.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: it's simple

          >>Was someone harmed or abused making it?

          Very good question, but the answer is not simple at all, yes if the picture is of an under 18 being abused, but what if they are 18, appear 14 and concent? or what if they are 14, appear 18 (and concent is irrelevant), what if it is a picture that appears to be a 10 year old boy being buggered but is a perfect quality painted picture (not a real person), or what if you think it's a real child, but the owner of the image claims it's been created?

          >>I always find it interesting that people are quite willing to believe that images of children (anyone under 18) being abused (any kind of potentially sexual act) will drive men to commiting such acts.

          That's right, nobody ever wants to kill, nobody rapes and children don't get abused. I'm pretty sure that most of these acts are points of escallation, it is well documented that serial killers often build up from smaller acts of violence, and it is logical to assume that a chid abuser will not be restricted to physical acts, whether it's addictive and habit-forming actually requiring escallation is a different matter.

          An abuser is an abberant person, having worked with sex offenders there is no question that you want to keep explicit materal away from the offenders, but you also want to keep other material away from offenders too that the general population would consider "normal".

          Have we gone too far with censorship? almost certainly, but people are "being safe than sorry", and do I find it stupid that I guy I know had his Facebook account removed because he posted a load of old family pics (one of him, the "offending picture" as a 5 year old straight out of the bath), that's too far, some people would argue that show a naked breast or flacid penis is OK, and some would say erect nipples, labia close-ups, and turgid penis is also OK, but I'm guessing that those people ain't setting the rules.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Down

            Sorry but you're wrong.

            The answer is simple. If no one, no _real_ person, is hurt then there is no crime. That should be that.

            Tell me why any _sane_ person should consider a cartoon of the Simpsons engaging on sexual acts obscene. In poor taste maybe, silly yes, but obscene?. Who has it hurt? Don't say 'but some people would use that as a steeping stone to other more horrific things. Some people will use _ANYTHING_ as a stepping stone to worse activities. Is that a reason, note that word, REASON, not excuse, to enforce oppresive laws on the whole of society?

            Some people are alcoholics. Currently our laws do not prevent them from buying or consuming alcohol. Perhaps laws should try to prevent those who cannot maturely cope with a substance from buying and / or consuming that substance. But to prevent the whole of society from doing so. That concept is not sane.

            And don't complain that your _offenders_ aren't sane. They might be saner that you are actually, just that their desires are not 'mainstream'.

            These laws seem to focus on making the human body and human sexuality, 'dirty'. Why? Our bodies, and we each have one, are not 'dirty'. It isn't 'rude' to kiss another human. It may be inappropriate as to time and place, but never, ever rude or dirty. Strangely enough, I really wish that those who have this attitude would realise that they too have a naked body and dispose of themselves for their 'crime'.That alone would advance civilisation by a few hundred years.

            Your question about relative ages and appearances is something that the various law enforcement organisations need to cope with. Just because someone looks to be under age doesn't mean that they are. The LEO's need to _prove_ the crime. Remember that concept? Get proof and then prosecute. And make sure that you prosecute for a _real_ crime. Use laws that help society rather than laws that just criminalise everyone.

            Perhaps you should use what 'inside' contacts you have to get the policy makers to understand that continued oppression makes people unhappy, and unhappy people have been know to revolt.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    The Treachery of Images huh

  3. Citizen Kaned


    catholic priests arent interested in cocks from sculptures, we all know they are far more interested in alter boys' ones.

    1. Mme.Mynkoff

      Kaned by name

      If you could spell "altar" I'd be even more impressed.

  4. Allicorn


    So what I'm hearing here is that Facebook is a papist conspiracy?

    Damn, I *knew* it!

  5. peyton?

    Papal censorship?

    I may be wrong but, if you not only own a painting, but you were the one who had it commissioned in the first place, and have it altered in any way shape or form, surely that is not censorship. Wouldn't that be more of a I'll-do-what-I-want-to-my-own$@#*@$-painting-thank-you-very-much kind of thing?

    On a more important note though: Is Facebook doing this because it has deeply religious roots? I mean, do I need to blame all of my/the world's problems on two sources now, or can they really be condensed down to one?

    Just want to be as efficient as possible, that's all.

  6. Tempest

    That's not all they have in common

    Narrow-minded, hypocritical, do-gooders who are also less than intelligent in certain subjects.

    Reminds me of the time I was in Boston and someone had thoughtfully covered 'the member' of a carved stone statue to protect American innocents. (It wasn't in Cambridge, so likely wasn't a student)

  7. John Savard Silver badge

    Technical Data

    While American movies and television may be saturated with violence, one violence-related thing that is still very controversial even in the United States is information on how to commit acts of violence. Such as plans to make bombs, for example.

    I think this is behind some of the special treatment given to sex. American television freely shows couples kissing in the conventional manner, fully clothed. It shows affectionate married couples with children.

    But nudity is perhaps seen, along with explicit sex, as giving information on how to do it... which needs to be kept away from young people, so they don't try it before they're ready.

  8. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "its about making sex dirty and keeping it dirty"

    Yes please.....

  9. OrsonX

    Nudity IS sinful.

    God didn't invent clothes for you all to walk around naked.

    Flames, because that's what hell looks like... you know, where all the sinners go.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Go back to your Bible

      God did not invent clothes - Man did.

      1. Shakje

        Pretty sure that

        man clothed himself, he didn't invent the clothes. Presumably if the tree of knowledge let man realise he was nude and had to be clothed, and God is assumed as the most knowledgeable being in the universe, God wore clothes before man. So God did invent clothes.

        1. Winkypop Silver badge

          Hmmmm, but....

          ....wouldn't 'god' need to actually exist in order to invent anything?

      2. OrsonX

        I checked in the Bible.

        God did indeed invent clothes. First he created the Universe, then Adam & Eve, then clothes, then Dinosaurs.

  10. gimbal

    Bottom lines and private bottoms

    Facebook's censorship is probably not based on random or exhaustive searches - it probably works on activation by prudish commentards clicking a 'report' button. Incidentally, there are privacy controls for photos and other user-created content, at the site.

    Facebook is protecting their bottom line. Maybe they could re-word their terms of service, to make it more flexible for consenting adults, without introducing threats for children, but from their point of view, why should they even try to pull that brass ring? What they have has worked so far. Their ToS is not impeding their cash flow.

    Maybe they could reword it within those outer limits - maybe.

    Obviously, though, if anyone would be concerned about it as to go bed angry at night ...there's MySpace, already up and running, among yay-many other social networking sites. That, and there's plenty of open web real estate out there, upon which one could venture forth into the wild, woolly unknown, so as to create one's own social networking startup - however BBS-like it may or may not turn out to be.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "Incidentally, there are privacy controls"

      HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

      Thanks for the laughs.

  11. Craig 28

    No logical reason...

    We consider going to the toilet as dirty for a sensible reason, it is our natural reaction to a substance which may harbour bacteria etc that we need to keep away from.

    We consider sex dirty because we're told it is. Suppressing information about sex only gives it an air of mystery and makes young people more curious about it. There is no logical reason for sex to be considered dirty, other than for some people to express control over others.

    It should have been pretty obvious that this sculpture was artistic in nature. Perhaps it was the individual who looked at the specific picture who had an extreme opinion on what is or is not offensive, or perhaps their lack of internal guidelines caused confusion. Perhaps there was pressure to remove any and all "obscene material" from above and they failed to adequately define obscene. In any case they need to make it clear what is or is not acceptable.

  12. David Neil

    Marilyn Chambers

    I need to get on the internet more, I thought Marilyn Chambers was the blonde with the bubble perm from Home & Away

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The Church is a fantastic example of how prohibition of sex and pornography leads to an idyllic world where people are free of sexual vice.

    On to another thought, given the era of most party priest activity (that we know of...) it seems to me that it can all be traced to times before the internet and globalisation of porn and ideals. I mean the average party priest probably didn't have access to any porn or sexual stimulus unless he read the sun.

    Judging by that "evidence" I'd say that being religious and not looking at porn and not enjoying casual sex means that you're very likely to enjoy hot sex with people who are under age.

    Hey I'm just using the same kind of "evidence" the filth, CEOP, and fellow pro-censorship folk used to ban drawings.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Bit more common needed

    I have some limited sympathy I suppose, but they really need to check a little more carefully. Not everything with a todger hanging out is a reject from Dirty Dez's Shag Site!

    There's a great bronze on Pall Mall in London, a Trojan I think which has had to be put in a glass case to stop people playing with it. Everytime I go past it and spot kids coming the other way, you can guarantee they will point and snigger at it!

  16. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

    With greatest respect...

    ...I will beg to differ with Ms. Bee.

    It's not a depicition of nudity, it's a depiction of dance.

    I will agree, however, that it is a stunning piece of work.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: With greatest respect...

      She's nude, and being depicted. But I take your slightly pretentious point.

  17. malcontent

    V&A too?

    I've heard a similar 'urban myth' about the statues in the V&A in London, with the same story that the penises are in a storeroom somewhere, maybe even in the adjacent Geological Museum, accessible of course through underground tunnels so they never needed to see the light of day.

  18. EvilGav 1

    Roger Waters . . .

    . . . got it spot on.

    "What god wants, god gets, god help us all."

    Censorship is bad in any form, as it's never implemented in a complete manner (you cant know anything), just on an arbitrary manner (you cant know something), as soon as it's done in that way it's open to abuse.

    No censorship at all, thank you very much. Anyone screaming "think of the children" (oooh errr), should probably be screaming "where are the parents".

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