The Don’t Delete Art group releases a manifesto targeting social media censorship

Don’t Delete Art, a group founded in 2020 to document art censorship on social media, has branded tech giants as “cultural gatekeepers” in a new manifesto aimed specifically at moderating nudity in art. This image features a cyanotype and mixed media art print that escaped Instagram’s strict censorship. Art by Adam Schrader/Instagram

March 5 (UPI) – Don’t Delete Art, a group formed in 2020 to document art censorship on social media, has tech giants in a new manifesto aimed specifically at moderating nudity in art as ” branded cultural gatekeepers.

The manifesto, which was published online last month, comes after artists on sites like Instagram and Facebook have long faced deletion of their accounts, removal of their posts and other penalties for allegedly violating such platforms’ terms of service. The manifesto was first spotted by The Art Newspaper.


In 2022, Hyperallergic reported that artists were sharing their art on adult platforms like OnlyFans and Pornhub because their works were being banned by social media companies.

“Social media is a critical avenue for artistic performance and expression; in 2020, they replaced art fairs as the third most successful way for galleries to sell art,” the Don’t Delete Art manifesto said, citing an Artsy 2021 industry report.

“As a result, social media companies have become cultural gatekeepers with unprecedented power to determine which artworks are free to circulate and which are banned or relegated to the digital fringes.”

The manifesto berates such companies’ terms of service with “overly restrictive and unclear community guidelines” that lack clear definitions of “offensive” material.

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“Opposition procedures are difficult, lengthy and often ineffective,” the manifesto says.

“As cultural workers and institutions, we are deeply concerned by this arbitrary and unnecessarily aggressive gatekeeping. It negatively impacts artists — who feel fearful and powerless, and often choose to censor themselves — and severely limits public access to the visual arts.”

The group Don’t Delete Art said in the manifesto that artists most likely to be hit by such restrictive community guidelines are likely those living in “oppressive regimes” like Russia.

(Last March, Russian regulators blocked about 80 million users from Instagram, arguing that the social media platform allows posts that provoke acts of violence against Russian troops in Ukraine.)

Don’t Delete Art invited artists, art organizations, institutions and educators to sign the manifesto. More than 1,000 had signed the petition as of Sunday, including advocacy groups PEN America and the National Coalition Against Censorship.

The artists call on the social media companies to “adopt a set of principles that will guide the regulation of art on the internet and allow for the free circulation of art in the online environment.

“One of the measures artists are seeking is for platforms to notify users when their content is removed or downgraded from a platform, thereby limiting their visibility. Such notices should include “details of the specific content removed” and “reasons for the removal,” the artists say.

The artists are also seeking “clear information” on how to appeal such decisions and the ability to appeal decisions even if an account has already been suspended or terminated.

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The appeals process “must include review by a panel” that, according to the manifesto, was not involved in the original decision to censor an artwork or artist.

“Platforms should take steps to ensure that artist accounts are not repeatedly silenced: one way is to screen artist and arts organization accounts and then subject them to another algorithmic scrutiny,” the manifesto reads.

“Platforms should not censor artistic expression simply because it contains nudity. While there can be issues obtaining consent or ensuring illegal material is not disseminated, the human nude has always been a central theme in art.”