Facebook, Instagram and TikTok recently blacklisted posts from a series of Vienna art museums that contained nude artwork, causing the museums to transition their artwork to OnlyFans, sparking a movement called “Vienna laid bare“.
The Vienna tourism board attacked the social media giants for making them “casualties of this new wave of prudishness” and dares viewers to subscribe to OnlyFans to view their accounts.
The three social media sites that banned the art have policies against displaying nudity or sexual activity on their sites.
“We default to removing sexual imagery to prevent the sharing of non-consensual or underage content,” Facebook wrote in its latest post on its Transparency Center. “Our nudity policies have become more nuanced over time…We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures.”
Instagram, which is under parent company Facebook, has similar bans and exceptions for art.
“We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram,” Instagram wrote in its Community Guidelines. “Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK.”
TikTok said in its Community Guidelines: “We do not allow depictions, including digitally created or manipulated content, of nudity or sexual activity.” but allows for exceptions for “artistic content.”
Despite these exceptions in community guidelines for artwork, the Vienna art consortium claims that many of their images were removed and their accounts were banned for repeat offenses.
In contrast, OnlyFans allows sexual content on its website and rose to fame for its creation of a sexually explicit creator community.
removing sexually explicit content from its platform, citing concerns from its banking partners that process its financial transactions. However, just a week later, it reversed the ban.
OnlyFans and sexually explicit content: Company suspends policy change banning sexually explicit content
“We have secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change,” read the platform’s statement. “OnlyFans stands for inclusion and we will continue to provide a home for all creators.”
The Vienna nude artwork controversy is occurring as Facebook is grappling with a larger debate over how it should censor content to protect the mental health of its users. Facebook recently came under Senate scrutiny for a Wall Street Journal leak that revealed company research showing that Instagram made body image issues worse for teenage girls.
Facebook representative testifies before Congress: Facebook grilled at Senate hearing over Instagram’s effect on teen mental health
Facebook whistleblower’s explosive testimony: Company makes ‘disastrous’ choices, prioritizes profit
Michelle Shen is a Money Tech Digital Reporter for USA TODAY. You can reach her @michelle_shen10 on Twitter.