Italian art historian Elisa Barbari just wanted to promote her work. With a focus on Bologna, Italy, her Facebook page titled "Stories, curiosities and views of Bologna” was in need of a promotional photo, and so the writer selected an image of the 1560s statue of the god Neptune which graces the city's Piazza del Nettuno. As The Telegraph reports, Facebook blocked her ad — calling the statue of the nude god holding a trident "explicitly sexual."
"The statue is shown from behind, not even as a close up, it's in the distance," Barbari told CNN of the picture she selected. "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."
The bronze statue is the work of Jean Boulogne, also known as Giambologna, and is a symbol of the Italian city. However, according to a Facebook statement, it's still too risqué for the platform. "The use of the image was not approved because it violates Facebook’s guidelines on advertising."
This is not the first bit of overzealous prudishness on the part of Facebook to make the news. In September the company was on the receiving end of an international backlash following its decision to ban an iconic Vietnam war photograph colloquially known as "Napalm Girl." And just last month Facebook officials banned a local San Francisco writer after he called supporters of Donald Trump "fascistic."
In both cases, Facebook officials reversed their decisions and later apologized — a pattern that seems to be repeating itself in the case of the nude ocean god. "Our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads," a company spokesperson told CNN. "This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologise for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad."
Which is good news for Facebook's 1.79 billion monthly active users — next time the company, helmed by god-fearing Mark Zuckerberg, tries to censor your content based on poorly defined criteria all you have to do is generate international outrage and you'll be allowed to publish as you see fit.