The ban of the iconic and controversial artwork, conceived by Hipgnosis’ Aubrey Powell and featuring naked children scaling a mountain, began earlier this week when music website Ultimate Classic Rock posted the Houses of the Holy cover art in a Facebook post, the fifth time the site had posted that album cover. On this occasion, however, the site received a takedown notice from Facebook following user complaints.
“Since children as young as 13 years old use Instagram/Facebook and the app is available in third-party app stores, there are rules regarding nudity and solicitation that we have to follow,” Facebook’s Jessica Oda wrote to Ultimate Classic Rock. “We place limitations on the display of this content to limit exposure of sensitive content.”
Facebook added, “Nudity can be shared for a variety of reasons, including as a form of protest, to raise awareness about a cause, or for educational or medical reasons. We default to removing sexual images to prevent non-consensual or underage content from being shared.” Ultimate Classic Rock eventually took down their Facebook post.
However, as other Facebook users noted, a blanket ban on the Houses of the Holy artwork spread throughout the social network; on a Change.org page criticizing the Facebook ban, one user claimed that a Led Zeppelin-posted YouTube video he posted on his private account that featured the Houses of the Holy artwork was flagged and taken down.
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Following the outcry from the Houses of the Holy ban, Facebook reversed its stance and decided to allow the 1975 artwork.
“As our community standards explain, we don’t allow nude images of children on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told UCR. “But we know this a culturally significant image. Therefore, we’re restoring the posts we removed.”
This isn’t the first time Facebook has come in conflict over controversial album art: In 2011, at the time of the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind, Facebook temporarily banned that album cover over similar concerns.