Petty Controversy

Petty controversy: Facebook vs. Nirvana's 'Nevermind' baby

In a curious move, the social-networking site banned an iconic (seemingly innocent) image, then relented after a public outcry

The controversy: Facebook administrators went to rather inexplicable lengths in their efforts to erase pornographic images from the site when they removed the iconic cover of Nirvana's 1991 Nevermind album from the band's Facebook page. Fans crying censorship protested the removal of the photo featuring a naked baby floating in a pool, which had been uploaded to celebrate the album's 20th anniversary. Facebook at first stood firm with its decision, citing company policy, but later relented and reinstated the cover image.

The reaction: "Hmm...not sure censoring one of the most iconic pieces of album artwork ever produced is going to do much for Facebook's street-cred," says Gerald Lynch at Tech Digest. "Whatever their concerns surrounding nude children, this seems more than a little rash." Here's a suggestion, Facebook, says Brett Warner at Ology: Common sense. "Is it really that impossible for Facebook’s staff of photo-pullers to differentiate between an iconic photograph and my cousin’s racy bachelor party snapshots?" It's not that simple, though, says Meredith Singer at AllFacebook. These decency rules leave "a lot of room for human error and subjectivity" about what's deemed appropriate material. It's become a familiar pattern: First, people complain about the photo, then other people complain about the censorship.

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