Reuben Negron – Artist
*Excerpts from an interview regarding social media censorship in Hyperallergic, 2013. Read the full article here.*
I was using Facebook as my number one source of online self promotion. I kept my work organized in public albums just as I’d done on MySpace, however, I now noticed that certain images were going missing. I’d occasionally get a message from the powers that be that an image was in violation of the Terms of Service, but more times than not I’d notice a missing photo when I went to share it directly with a friend or potential collector. I ran trials to test if my images were being flagged by someone or just falling prey to some algorithm by reuploading deleted images. Some were caught, others weren’t. Mind you, this entire time I was aware that Facebook had a strict no nudity policy. I just tend to not agree with most policies involving the human form (which in turn informed some of my more controversial paintings for Dirty Dirty Love).
Censorship has only prompted me to continue doing what I do. In the beginning I admit that I was angry and took the deletion of my work personally. It’s easy to be influenced negatively by such things. But I quickly realized that it opened the door for much broader dialogue. I’ve never wanted my work to be easy — it’s a means to an end, impact beyond the aesthetic. If controversy on social networks can be the catalyst for viewer participation beyond the gallery walls, then so be it.
But before I’m misunderstood, don’t think I’m making a case for online censorship. This is merely how I’ve come to utilize it in my favor. Just because social networks don’t allow nudity doesn’t mean it’s stricken from public awareness. If anything I think this type of censorship shines a spotlight on the issue and forces some, if not many, to take it up as a cause. Our sense of decency evolves with time and so do our social networks.