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Facebook bans picture of robin redbreast for being 'sexual'

'Hilariously, Facebook has blocked my Christmas cards from becoming a product in my shop due to their shameful, sexual nature!'

Andrew Griffin,Maya Oppenheim
Monday 13 November 2017 16:51
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It might be the most controversial robin redbreast ever.

A painting of one of the birds has been banned from Facebook because it was too "sexual" and "adult". To most people, the painting of the bird appeared to be innocent and nice – but Facebook appeared to see something entirely more outrageous.

Jackie Charley, the artist behind the cards, hoped to sell three cards featuring painted woodland creatures via her shop but Facebook issued a notice indicating they breached the social media site’s policy.

"Hilariously, Facebook has blocked my Christmas cards from becoming a product in my shop due to their shameful, sexual nature!" wrote Jackie Charley, who painted a series of wintry scenes and sold cards of them. She explained that she had recieved a message telling her the post had been removed that read "It looks like we didn't approve your item because we don't allow the sale of adult items or services (e.g. sexual enhancement items or adult videos)".

Charley told The Independent Facebook's notice had left her feeling powerless. She said: "I got frustrated because there seemed little I could do."

"They are a huge corporation and I am one small artisan trying to make some money to keep our family together," she continued. "My husband has been unable to work for nine years because of a long-standing medical condition. This was my first time trying to seriously sell anything via Facebook and I felt powerless."

The site said that the picture had been blocked by mistake and had allowed it to go back online "as soon as we became aware of our mistake".

"Our team processes millions of images each week, and occasionally we incorrectly prohibit content, as happened here," a Facebook spokesperson said. "We approved Jackie’s post as soon as we became aware of our mistake, and are very sorry for the inconvenience caused.”

Charley’s hand painted cards included three common symbols of winter - a robin redbreast, one of the most familiar British garden birds, a stag, and a squirrel. The 52-year-old, who lives in Scotland, has now decided to sell her distinctly benign cards on independent retailer Etsy.

It's far from the first time that Facebook has got itself into controversy by banning an image that most deem important or non-sexual. Last year, for instance, it banned the famous "napalm girl" photo because the site said that it was a picture of child nudity.

It has also had a fraught relationship with images of breastfeeding, for instance. The site has repeatedly banned people who posted them for showing "obscene content" or "offensive nudity" and has been forced to reinstate them after public outcry.

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