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Flemish master Rubens’ paintings have fallen foul of Facebook’s censors

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Pierre Paul Rubens: Ixion roi des Lapithes trompé par Junon qu’il voulait séduire

Mark Zuckerberg’s ever so slightly beleaguered team of censors have found themselves embroiled in one of their most unusual mistakes to date. Posts featuring paintings by Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens have been removed from the site, having fallen foul of strict nudity regulations.

The paintings, which were being used on the social media platform as part of a promotion for the Belgian region of Flanders, featured – as you’d expect from the artist responsible for the term ‘Rubenesque’ – a fair amount of cherubic flesh. It was, so it seems, a display of nudity so wanton that Facebook had no option but to hide the posts. Even if the flesh in question was 400 year old paint splattered on 400 year old canvas.

Oddly, Facebook’s regulations state that naked statues are fine. Which is worth bearing in mind for anyone looking to sneak informative, educational images of genitalia in front of aunt Sharon, or the bloke from primary school who once ate a moth.

Peter De Wilde, chief officer of the region’s tourist board says, “Unfortunately, promoting our unique cultural heritage on the world’s most popular social network is impossible right now.”

His colleagues have released a short video where visitors to the Rubens House in Antwerp are accosted by “nude police” to ensure they can’t see the offending paintings.