In the last week Facebook has banned the aged breasts in the background a photograph from 1999 posted by Ella Dreyfus, and the indigenous breasts from a traditional Aboriginal ceremony posted by Celeste Liddle. Both bans are of course absurd and offensive. But Facebook’s explanations are revealing. On the one hand it claims that ‘diversity is central to Facebook’s mission of creating a more open and connected world’, but on the other hand, it explains: ‘The reason we restrict the display of nudity is because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content – particularly because of cultural background or age. In order to treat people fairly and respond to reports quickly, it is essential that we have policies in place that our global teams can apply uniformly and easily when reviewing content. As a result, our policies can sometimes be more blunt than we would like, and restrict content shared for legitimate purposes.’ Facebook’s mission is actually to circulate messages and images to as many consumers as possible, as rapidly as possible, so they can view ads. It may fantasise that it is something like a Habermasian public sphere, but on Facebook discursive relations are always subsumed in market relations. The connected world is a global market. (Plus, as Clementine Ford points out, Facebook HQ is still permeated by frat boy culture). Unfortunately, because of the ruthless efficiency of its image distribution model, for many artists and activists  it remains indispensable.

Ella Dreyfus, Age and Consent, 1999

Ella Dreyfus, Age and Consent, 1999

Chris Graham, Aboriginal Women at a Northern Territory public, 2016

Chris Graham, Aboriginal Women at a Northern Territory public ceremony, 2016

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