Der Standard

Where Some See Art, A.I. Sees Pornograph­y


OnlyFans has a surprising new member: the Vienna Tourist Board. It will use the adults-only site to show images of paintings and sculptures displayed in the Austrian capital that have been blocked by social media sites for nudity or sexual content.

The offending artworks include the Venus of Willendorf, a 25,000-yearold limestone figurine of a woman. Facebook removed a photo of it from the Vienna Museum of Natural History’s page several years ago for being “pornograph­ic.”

There’s also “Liebespaar,” Koloman Moser’s early 20th-century painting, which the Leopold Museum included in a video post celebratin­g its anniversar­y in September. The video, which was blocked by the algorithms of Instagram and Facebook, “is a combinatio­n of details of the work and written feelings that are evoked by the painting,” said Christine Kociu, the museum’s social media manager. “It shows a nude couple embracing. It’s actually sweet.”

Though nudity is generally not allowed on Instagram and Facebook, the platforms make some exceptions. Instagram’s community guidelines say: “Photos in the context of breastfeed­ing, birth giving and after-birth moments, health-related situations (for example, post-mastectomy, breast cancer awareness or gender confirmati­on surgery) or an act of protest are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.” Facebook’s rules allow for nudity in photograph­s of “paintings, sculptures and other art.”

Still, institutio­ns that post photos of art have found that instances of nudity have not always been deemed acceptable. Part of the reason could be that on social media, artificial intelligen­ce is used to flag content that violates a site’s guidelines.

The platforms did not respond to requests for comment.

“It’s not an anti-technology agenda that we have,” said Norbert Kettner, the director of the Vienna Tourist Board.

But after the city’s museums faced one case after another of social media sites taking down their posts, he said, “We thought, ‘What would be an alternativ­e? What would be a channel where nudity is not an issue in and of itself?’ ”

Mr. Kettner said that the OnlyFans account is not a permanent solution, but rather a protest against censorship and a call for conversati­on.

Ms. Kociu said that in the last few years, Facebook’s and Instagram’s algorithms have improved at identifyin­g artworks. So the platforms’ decision to block the video ad featuring “Liebespaar,” as well as a nude self-portrait by Egon Schiele, surprised her. In cases like these, there is not much recourse other than to send an appeal to the platform.

“It’s depressing sometimes,” Ms. Kociu said. “People can make a decision about whether they like the artworks or not, but not being able to show them because of an algorithm is weird.”

 ?? AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES ?? Facebook removed images of the Venus of Willendorf, a 25,000-year-old limestone figurine of a naked woman.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES Facebook removed images of the Venus of Willendorf, a 25,000-year-old limestone figurine of a naked woman.

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