Facebook Bans Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy Artwork

  • Axl Rosenberg

Facebook is a fascinating thing. Someone can send MetalSucks a physical threat with anti-Semitic epithets, and FB is all, “This does not violate any of our policies.” On the other hand, you can’t post the iconic cover art for Led Zeppelin’s classic 1973 album, Houses of the Holy, because it has butt cracks on it.

In what can only be called a gross over-enforcement of Facebook’s guidelines against posting nude or sexual photos, the social media giant has reportedly banned the legendary Hipgnosis/Aubrey Powell-designed artwork on the grounds that it contains nudity. In this instance, that nudity amounts to a few exposed kids’ butts (I think most of us have assumed it’s little girls on the cover, but some of them could be boys with long hair — there’s no genitalia on display). Because admitting that all of us, even small children, have asses would surely bring about the end of days.

Facebook Bans Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy Artwork

According to Classic Rock, administrators of multiple Led Zeppelin Facebook fan pages, including Led Zeppelin ~ Ultimate Fan Page, Zeptember, and others, have had the image taken down for allegedly violating FB’s community standards on nudity or sexual activity. One fan, who administers an unidentified Jimmy Page fan page, was locked out of her Facebook account for three days as a result of posting the image, while Zeptember was taken down and deleted altogether.

After enough angry fans found themselves punished for daring to post the cover, they banded together and launched a petition imploring Facebook to reconsider. But according to Michelle Kaotic, who runs the Led Zeppelin ~ Ultimate Fan Page, even sharing that petition on FB has been a hurdle:

“Approximately 30 minutes after posting the petition on my page, I received a notice that the post went against community standards. I then created another post, mentioning how the petition was removed. Before too long, everyone was commenting, indicating that they had shared the petition and been given warnings.

“The link to the petition was being removed by anyone sharing it. All because the thumbnail image was the album cover. I even had page members message me to indicate that they had been given 24 hour bans. Some even received three days.”

Classic Rock goes on to note that while “Facebook’s own Community Standards Policy Rationale states that they allow the upload of ‘photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures,’” the process by which the company decides which images do or do not qualify isn’t exactly foolproof:

“Facebook have algorithms that kick in if the people featuring in an uploaded image are deduced to to be baring above a certain percentage of skin. And you’d expect ‘Houses of the Holy’ to trigger that. Otherwise, images can be reported by users, although Facebook claims that 96 percent of posts featuring nudity are removed before they’re made public.

“What happens next is the interesting bit. Flagged images are shown to moderators, who have a couple of seconds to approve or ban an image before moving on to the next. Yes or No. It’s a grim job. The moderators witness murders, and child rape, and all kinds of other graphic violence.

“The moderator could work at a moderation centre in Phoenix, Arizona, or at an outpost in The Philippines, or at any number of discreet offices around the world. Most likely they’ve never heard of Led Zeppelin. They just see an image. Yes or No. And once a human has deemed that an image contains suspect material, it’s likely to be automatically removed in future.”

They go on to point out that Nirvana’s Nevermind was briefly banned back in 2011, before being unbanned, and that the cover images for Jane’s Addiction’s Ritual De Lo Habitual and Nothing’s Shocking and Van Halen’s Balance — all of which depict adult or child nudity — continue to be permitted on the platform.

It seems pretty clear that this is a crack (no pun intended) in Facebook’s protocols, which I assume could be easily fixed if someone in the right position at the company were to be made aware of the situation. Hopefully it will get enough media attention that this will happen. I know Facebook has bigger fish right now, like making sure they’re not accidentally undermining our entire democracy*, but surely it would take them all of ten minutes to address this, no?

Read the rest of Classic Rock‘s report here.

*Just kidding, they clearly don’t care if they accidentally undermine our entire democracy.

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