New York, NY– Don’t Delete Art, a virtual gallery and campaign from an international coalition of artists and free expression organizations, has created the first comprehensive resource for artists to avoid and combat censorship on social media. This new guide combines advice from Facebook and Instagram staff, with insights from arts advocates and artists about how to comply with the vague, and often capriciously-applied, rules that govern what art is allowed on social media.
Don’t Delete Art is an advocacy campaign and virtual gallery showcasing artwork which has been banned or restricted online. The work is selected by a rotating collective of international artists and curators, including Gala Garrido, Kenneth Gruenholtz, Osman Can Yerebakan, Savannah Spirit and Spencer Tunick. Don’t Delete Art was created in response to artists’ increased reliance on social media platforms in the absence of physical art spaces.
Spencer Tunick, one of the founding curators and a frequently-censored artist, said, “We couldn’t just wait for the platforms to catch up. This is about artists helping artists survive. We have to be able to reach our audiences, to work within the current guidelines while we keep pushing back against a removal and appeals process too many artists struggle to navigate.”
The resource draws from the hard-earned wisdom of artists who have weathered countless post removals, shadow bans and account deletions. It includes specific advice for image pixelation, hashtag selection, contextualizing work and appealing removals.
Founding curator Savannah Spirit has struggled with multiple account removals. As she describes, “It’s a sinking feeling when your art has been deleted. Even worse, you discover you’ve been locked out with no access to your data and network. Without inside help, artists have to start all over again. These pointless takedowns leave artists powerless. Don’t Delete Art helps artists protect their account and maintain control of their online presence.”
In addition to digital resources, Don’t Delete Art will host virtual collaborative sessions with artists and advocates.
Don’t Delete Art is calling on social media companies to commit to consistent, accurate enforcement and to adopt a set of principles governing how they handle art on their platforms. The principles include improved notifications for all content that is removed or “downranked,” opportunities to appeal all content moderation decisions from post removal to downranking to account deletion, and a commitment to encourage, rather than discourage, artistic freedom.
According to NCAC’s Director of Programs, Svetlana Mintcheva, “We understand the complexities of creating consistent community standards for billions of users. But social media platforms are our de-facto public space. They are essential to artists and art audiences. A censorship regime that forces art like that exhibited in Don’t Delete Art out of sight impoverishes the public sphere and is devastating to artists who – for political or economic reasons – may have no other avenues of expression.”
The gallery includes works that have been banned or restricted by artists including Carolee Schneemann, Betty Tompkins, Clarity Haynes, Alpha Channeling and Olek, among dozens of others.
Don’t Delete Art is a joint project of the artist/curators, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), Article19, PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), Freemuse, IBEX Collection and International Arts Rights Advisors.
The gallery is accepting submissions and will be updated on a revolving basis.
Images by Savannah Spirit, Emanuele Dascanio and Juliana Mar and are all included in the Don’t Delete Art Gallery