The power of social media is amazing. Around 4.76 billion people – that’s 59% of the world’s population – use it for an average of two and a half hours a day. Regarding the art world, social media has overtaken art fairs as the third most successful way for galleries to sell art in 2020, and also serves as a major source of income for many independent artists. The interdependence of the art world and social media (particularly Instagram) is clear and significant.
It goes without saying that this power of the heavily profit-oriented corporations can be dangerous. “Social media companies have become cultural gatekeepers with unprecedented power to determine which artworks are free to circulate and which are banned or digitally marginalized,” says Don’t Delete Art (DDA), a project founded in 2020 , which documents art censorship on social media, aims to advance the protection of artistic expression across all platforms. “We realize we need to put more pressure on them to get social media companies to take artistic expression seriously,” a statement added.
Now the DDA project has launched a manifesto asking artists, institutions and everyone involved to sign. “The campaign will put pressure on major platforms like Facebook and Instagram to involve artists and other creators in the content moderation process,” says the DDA. The main demands of the manifesto for social media companies are: to review existing restrictions on artistic content; a review of alleged violations; and a better appeals and notification process as established by the Don’t Delete Art Campaign and the Santa Clara Principles. It adds, “Each platform should have established methods for incorporating artist perspectives into their content moderation policies, as well as specific procedures for reviewing and appealing arts-related posts.”
The announcement of the Don’t Delete Art manifesto above an image by artist Tiffany Cole Image courtesy of Don’t Delete Art and Tiffany Cole
With regulatory laws and standards changing in the US, Europe and the UK, now is an opportune time to advocate for change. “It will be critical that artists at risk are considered and valued as companies adapt,” the manifesto reads. “The artists and audiences who are likely to be affected the most [by new laws] are those who live in oppressive regimes, those who come from marginalized groups and those who lack museums or galleries.” To this end, the DDA calls on arts institutions and their leaders to register and fight for artists who are excluded from the Art censorship on social media are affected.
The DDA Coalition includes artists Savannah Spirit and Spencer Tunick; America’s National Coalition Against Censorship; PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection; the NGO Freemuse; and art writer Emma Shapiro. DDA plans to hit the social media sidewalks hard with “a coordinated and highly visible online social media effort” to encourage more people to join their mission.
The manifesto already had more than 800 signers – find it at dontdelete.art