BREAKING: Facebook, Instagram ban stereotypical images of Zwarte Piet

Facebook and Instagram users can now report images of the stereotypical Zwarte Piet for removal. “New wave” Zwarte Piets, such as soot streaks instead of blackface, will still be allowed on the platforms. 

Removable content will include images that “clearly uses black face paint or makeup to darken the colour of the face, along with other stereotyping features such as a wig with curls or large lips.”

Zwarte Piet has been a hot button topic in the Netherlands in recent years. The golliwog-like figure, typically presented in blackface, with gold hoops, and a black curly wig has been accused of being reminiscent of slavery and Dutch colonial rule. Recently, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte came out in opposition to the figure, acknowledging the presence of institutionalized racism in the Netherlands.

What images are still allowed?

The below image would be considered inappropriate under the new rules due to the blackface, curly hair, and painted lips.

Image: Danny den Otter, Haus of Make-up/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

However, the following image depicts a Pete with soot streaks, so would likely be allowed under the new rules. Facebook has not yet specified if the presence of a black wig without blackface would be removable.

Image: Ziko van Dijk/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

Zwarte Piet and the use of blackface are part of an “ongoing history of dehumanization and denial of civil rights” worldwide, the American company states.

However, some uses of the images are excepted from the rule. News reports, or messages from opponents of Zwarte Piet, will still be allowed.

The company says that the decision is not directly caused by recent Zwarte Piet debates, the Black Lives Matter movement, or the recent advertising boycott. Rather, it is a larger, ongoing process by Facebook against discrimination.

The company acknowledged that the move could mean Dutch users will depart the platforms. “This could be a setback, but it is the right choice for us,” the company said in a press briefing, reports NOS.

Jewish depictions also banned

Images of Zwarte Piet aren’t the only items targeted by Facebook and Instagram. Photos or cartoons that show stereotypical depictions of Jews will also be able to be reported and removed. Facebook says that such images are used to fuel anti-Semitism.

What do you think about the changes by the social networks? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Danny den Otter, Haus of Make-up/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

Samantha Dixon
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.



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