Facebook admitted being wrong in temporarily blocking an advertisement using the famous romantic painting by Eugene Delacroix “Liberty leading the people”, inspired by the French revolution of 1830. The painting had been banned because it depicts a bare breasted woman holding a French flag.
The work, which does not portray just any woman, but Marianne, the national symbol of the French Republic, who has also been depicted on a French banknote, was used in an online advertising campaign for a play to be shown in Paris.
However, as the play’s director Jocelyn Fiorina announced, last week Facebook “cut” the advertisement together with the painting. As he said, according to the French Press “just a quarter of an hour before the advert was to begin, it was blocked and the company (i.e. Facebook) told us that nudity was forbidden”.
He then posted a new advertisement with the same painting, where this time the breasts of “Liberty” had been covered by a banner that said “censored by Facebook”. This advertisement was not banned.
On Sunday, Facebook apologized for its zeal. As its manager in Paris, Elodie Larcis said in a statement “The work ‘Liberty Leading the People’ rightly has its place on Facebook… We have immediately informed the user that his sponsored publicity is henceforth approved”.
“In order to protect the integrity of our service, we verify millions of publicity images each week and sometimes we make mistakes,” said Larcis.
Last Thursday, a Paris court denied the charges brought by a French teacher who demanded that Facebook pay him damages, claiming that his page had been censored when he posted a nude painting by Gustave Courbet.
The court however pointed out that Facebook had made a mistake in not specifying to the user the reasons for its decision.