Dozens of people stripped naked outside Facebook's New York Headquarters on Sunday, in a protest against censorship policies adopted by the social media giant on artistic nudity.
The protest, organised by the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and photographer/artist Spencer Tunick, is called #wethenipple. Demonstrators removed their clothes, lay on the sidewalk and used images of male nipples; which are acceptable on Facebook and Instagram, to cover their nipples and private parts.
At sunrise on Sunday, June 2, 2019, 125 people posed nude in front of Facebook and Instagram’s New York City headquarters at Astor Place to challenge social media censorship. In collaboration with the National Coalition Against Censorship, artist @SpencerTunick created a photographic artwork as part of their #WeTheNipple campaign. The campaign calls for a change in the polices of both social media platforms to allow photographic artistic nudity. NCAC has written an open letter to Facebook, which owns Instagram, asking them to commit to supporting artists, rather than silencing them. NCAC has asked Facebook to convene a group of stakeholders in the arts to develop new guidelines for artistic content. Participants in Sunday’s art action covered their nipples with stickers of photographed male nipples, to highlight the rigid—and anachronistic—gender inequality in existing nudity policies. Svetlana Mintcheva, Director of Programs at NCAC said, “We recognize that moderating content for billions of users is challenging and draw the line between art and images that are not art is hard. Yet, if Facebook and Instagram want to be platforms for artists, they need to modify their current overbroad ban on photographic nudity, which harms artists who work with the human body, especially those exploring issues of gender and identity. We urge the company to adopt an art-friendly policy developed with the help of a group of global stakeholders, such as arts advocates, historians, curators and artists.” (Ncac.org)
In a tweet describing the protest piece, Tunick said there were "male nipple stickers covering female presenting nipples and male nipple cards covering all ... genitalia."
In a statement, the NCAC said, "The human body has always been a central subject of art. Its representations have evolved with technologies of expression: from cave drawings, to sculpture and painting, to photography and video."
"The nudity ban prevents many artists from sharing their work online," the NCAC said. “It particularly harms artists whose work focuses on their own bodies, including queer and gender-nonconforming artists, and the bodies of those in their communities. Museums and galleries are constrained when even promoting exhibitions featuring nudes."
In an open letter to Facebook, NCAC has asked for the formation of "group of globally representative stakeholders including artists, art educators, museum curators, activists, as well as Facebook employees, to develop guidelines that transparently balance the competing interests of the many different communities Facebook serves."