26 March 2020: Art blogger Christa Zaat from the Netherlands, published images of three paintings by Harold Knight on her Facebook page Female Artists in History, which were later deleted by the platform.
Zaat told Freemuse that the posts were flagged three times in 24 hours by Facebook, and the works by Knight were deleted.
According to the blogger, the motivation behind the removal of the images was that Facebook “due to the Coronavirus […] had not enough capacity. I had no ban; they were just deleted.”
This incident is yet another example of censorship, as Zaat says she has been banned “dozens of times” by Facebook, starting from 2015 where the platform gave Zaat a warning.
“After that, the penalties increased, until I was banned for four weeks several times. In those days, you could not appeal. It just happened, and you were banned for a shorter or longer time. I even was banned for four weeks for posting Blanche Lazzell – Sans Titre, 1927, because I violated the guidelines.”
According to Zaat, Facebook had said that she could lose her account Female Artists in History if she continued posting paintings containing nudity. These strict guidelines have affected the work of the blogger who says in an email conversation with Freemuse that censorship is affecting her art blogging.
Zaat continues to post artistic nudes, both female and male, but she now stopped posting paintings that are “too shocking”.
“I’m always alert, and don’t feel free to post what I want,” says Zaat.
Christa Zaat has been a part of the Freemuse’s report the Privatising Censorship, Digitising Violence: Shrinking Space of Women’s Rights to Create in the Digital Age, on how women artists interact with the online space. In the report, Zaat spoke to Freemuse about how she has been banned at least a dozen times in seven years, and how she has found it difficult to engage with the Facebook content moderators because of the design of their appeals process.
The report includes digital toolkit – a guide for artists facing censorship and harassment online, defining clear steps that can be followed in these situations. The toolkit is available on page 50 of the report.