Hippie book author accuses Facebook of hypocrisy

Facebook users do not expect to see nudity, spokesperson says at censorship debate, even though the company allows advertisers to show images of scantily-clad women

Facebook users need to remember that they belong to a global community whose attitudes to nudity vary widely, the social network’s spokesperson told a debate about online freedom of speech yesterday.

The debate, held at the EU information centre Europa Huset, was organised following the decision by Apple to not carry a Danish book about 1970s hippie culture because it contained nudity.

Facebook also threatened to ban its author, Peter Øvig Knudsen, after he posted content from the book that depicted nudity on his Facebook page.

READ MORE: More Danish content censored by Facebook

Not censorship
Facebook’s Nordic head of policy, Thomas Myrup Kristensen, said that Facebook was not censoring Øvig, but simply implementing its guidelines regarding nudity.

“We think global communication will suffer if we start allowing nudity, “ Kristensen said, pointing out that some countries around the world would not tolerate the sharing of images that depict nudity.

He added that Facebook worked hard to be highly predictable for its billion-plus users, many of whom do not expect to be confronted by nudity.

But Knudsen argued that Facebook was being hypocritical, as it allows companies to buy advertising in which women are shown wearing so little clothes that they might as well be naked.

MEP Morten Løkkegaard (V), who hosted the event together with MEP Christel Schaldmose (S), echoed Knudsen’s complaint.

“Excluding private users because of what I consider relatively harmless images seems absurd,” Løkkegaard told Ritzau before the event.

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Global debate
The censorship case sparked and international debate after, as a stunt, Knudsen resubmitted the book to Apple but with red apples covering the hippie’s private parts.

And after Facebook threatened to ban Knudsen, thousands of users shared the photo of four naked hippies swimming in the North Sea.

An English version of the original e-book was launched yesterday through publisher Gyldendahl to coincide with the debate.

“The case continues to raise a political debate, which is why I’m so happy that an international audience is now able to read the story behind these images,” Knudsen said.

READ MORE: Apple bites again as it recalls banned author’s app

Apple no show
Google – which carries the book in its online shop Google Play – attended the event alongside Facebook, but Apple reportedly did not even respond to the invitation.

The Copenhagen Post asked Apple why it didn’t see the need to attend the debate, but had received no reply at the time of publication.