Story at a glance
- Museums in Vienna are turning to OnlyFans to showcase some of their nude and more erotic art.
- Traditional social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, monitor users and channels to censor obscene or pornographic material though sometimes they flag sculptures and paintings.
- OnlyFans is an online subscription content service that, while not explicity surrounding sex work and eroticism, has become a safe haven for sex workers to produce and monetize content.
“I know it when I see it.”
The famous words U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart used in 1964 to describe how he determines obscenity when establishing the difference between pornography and art have taken on a new meaning in the era of social media.
As traditional social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, monitor users and channels to censor obscene or pornographic material, museums are taking an untraditional step to showcase erotic art: creating OnlyFans pages.
OnlyFans is an online subscription content service. While it is not explicity surrounding sex work and eroticism, it has become a safe haven for sex workers to produce and monetize content. Though the platform did briefly state in August that it would be banning explicit videos by October, it quickly changed course and walked back the announcement.
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Vienna, Austria’s board for tourism took the unusual step to highlight some of its museums’ more risque works by creating an account called “Vienna Strips on OnlyFans.”
“The Viennese are very open-minded,” Helena Hartlauer, head of media relations for the Vienna Tourist Board, told ARTnews.
For $4.99 a month, subscribers can view a myriad of works that had previously been deemed too explicit for traditional social media, such as pieces by Koloman Moser and Egon Schiele.
A less-explicit video promoting the Vienna Tourist Board’s OnlyFans account is currently available on YouTube.
“It hardly comes as any surprise to learn that some of their artworks fell foul of the censors over 100 years ago,” the Vienna Tourist Board wrote in a statement on the decision. “And the battle against censorship still rages on: with the rise of social media, bans like these are back in headlines once again. Major social media channels like Instagram and Facebook have nudity and ‘lewd’ content firmly in their sights.”
In 2018, a photo Vienna’s Natural History Museum posted of the renowned, 30,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf figurine was removed from Facebook after being deemed “pornographic,” and in September, the platform deemed a painting by Moser portraying a nude couple as “potentially pornographic.”
Content featuring “sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks” and some instances showing “female nipples” are in violation of Facebook’s and Instagram’s community guidelines.
Though Instagram’s policy states “nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures” is permitted, there are still numerous instances of moderators deeming such works as violating its standards.
Hartlauer said she hopes the board’s decision will “start a conversation” surrounding the issues with social media and art and censorship.
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