Photographer defends image banned by Facebook
July 29, 2014
Picture credit: Penny Halsall
The black and white image, by Penny Halsall, shows the photographer’s four-year-old daughter Daisy planting seeds and flowers in an alley behind their Oxfordshire home.
It won fourth place in Round Four of Amateur Photographer of the Year, a competition that focused on portraits taken in natural light.
Amateur Photographer (AP) magazine posted the image on its Facebook page on 24 July, to highlight the winning entries.
But Facebook removed the post from the AP account three days later, claiming that it broke its rules on nudity.
The portrait shows the girl in her underwear.
Facebook tells AP that the decision would likely have followed a complaint by a Facebook user.
Speaking today, Penny – who took the photo in June – said she was ‘saddened’ by Facebook’s decision.
On hearing the news, she told AP: ‘It’s a real shame… At a time of year when Facebook news feeds are inundated with pictures of children in swimming trunks and playing in paddling pools, people in bikinis and children enjoying their summer holidays, I find it rather sad that I need to defend a photograph of my daughter who was simply playing in the summer.
‘As a photographer, the reaction is stifling and my worry is that somehow this type of suspicion allows some people to misinterpret the true intent behind the image.’
Before its removal, the image attracted 40 likes on Facebook and was hailed a ‘very good photo’ by one Facebook user.
Twitter users later described it as ‘awesome’ and ‘excellent work’.
Penny added: ‘It would seem [Facebook’s] reaction is all about context. At the end of the day I took a photograph of my daughter on a hot sunny day, and I entered it into a photography competition of high repute – it was never my intent to offend.
‘However, as a mother I can understand why Facebook needs to take all complaints seriously and I am aware of the dangers of using social media.’
Facebook removed the portrait on 27 July, saying it did not follow the site’s ‘community standards’
The offending image had already appeared in print, in AP’s 26 July issue.
The photographer says she posted it on her personal Facebook account in June, without any comeback.
Penny says she is very careful when photographing people.
‘I have a mental checklist, so it really didn’t occur to me at all when I sent it in, or even posted it on Facebook that there would be any comeback.
‘Even when my daughter has friends around I won’t take photos of them because I think you have to be so, so careful these days.’
Facebook’s ‘community standards’ on nudity refer to its ‘strict policy against sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved’.
The conditions add: ‘We also impose limitations on the display of nudity.
‘We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture-like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.’
Facebook’s UK office had yet to respond to a request for comment about the case at the time of writing.
Speaking in general terms, Facebook says it seeks to strike a balance between the context in which an image is published, and any offence it might cause to some people.