Virtual art gallery showcases artwork banned by social media platforms

Virtual art gallery showcases artwork banned by social media platforms -

An international coalition of arts and free expression organisations has launched Don’t Delete Art, a virtual gallery showcasing work which is banned or restricted on social media.

The gallery was created in response to artists’ increased reliance on social media platforms as the coronavirus pandemic forced global closings of physical art spaces. With social media as the world’s primary art space, artists are more vulnerable than ever to the chaotic manner in which platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube, remove and restrict art vaguely defined as “objectionable.” 

The Don’t Delete Art gallery is curated by a collective including frequently-censored artists Spencer Tunick and Savannah Spirit, as well as representatives from the arts organisations involved. The gallery will host webinars and digital events, as well as rotating exhibitions. 

The gallery is calling on social media companies to adopt a set of notice and appeals principles guiding the regulation of art online and allowing art to circulate freely in the online environment.

ARTICLE 19’s Senior Campaigner Barbara Dockalova said: 

This gallery shows just how much artistic expression is under threat from restrictions by social media platforms, which in particular affect LGBTQI groups and minorities.

“Artists rely on social media platforms to promote their work so the impact of censorship is very real. Platforms are removing works either because they breach their terms and conditions or because their algorithms mistakenly remove them. This has a chilling effect on both the work that artists create and their ability to promote and share it with audiences. 

“We need more transparency and consistency from social media companies to ensure that artistic expression is protected.”

The National Coalition Against Censorship’s Director of Programs, Svetlana Mintcheva, explained: “The reliance on social media during this pandemic has only exacerbated an ongoing problem: the censorship of art by social media companies. As is always the case with censorship, those with the least access to political or cultural power are the first silenced. We understand companies are facing unprecedented challenges moderating their platforms, but that is no reason to choose the easy, but profoundly undemocratic route of jettisoning creative freedom.”

Missing voices campaign

ARTICLE 19’s Missing Voices campaign is calling for more transparency and the improvement of dispute resolution when social media platforms remove content and close down users’ accounts under their policies and community guidelines.  The campaign has found that journalists, artists, activists and marginalised groups are often targets for takedown on social media. 

We are calling for Facebook, Twitter and Google to:

  • Provide more transparency about the number of content removals, types of flaggers , reasons for removal, how many appeals they receive and the outcome of the appeals.
  • Give all users to have a right to appeal when their content is removed or their account closed down. 

Notes to Editor

The coalition behind Don’t Delete Art includes ARTICLE 19, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), IBEX Collection, PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), International Arts Rights Advisors, and Freemuse.

Find out more about ARTICLE 19’s Missing Voices campaign.


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