Artist’s 'sexual' robin redbreast Christmas cards banned by Facebook

Jackie Charley said she ‘could not stop laughing’ after harmless festive images were blocked by Facebook because of ‘adult’ nature.

Facebook has blocked the sale of a pack of Christmas cards featuring a robin redbreast because of its “sexual” and “adult” nature.

The artist, Jackie Charley, said she “could not stop laughing” when she discovered the reason the social media company would not approve the product last month.

The bird, with its distinctive red and orange breast, was one of three designs painted by Charley of animals in the snow for the set. The others were a stag and a squirrel.

But Facebook blocked what it perceived as an “adult item” after the artist attempted to upload the image to her Bothycrafts page.

In a post on her Facebook page, Charley said she was sent the message: “It looks like we didn’t approve your item because we don’t allow the sale of adult items or services (e.g. sexual enhancement items or adult videos).”

The 52-year-old wrote: “Hilariously, Facebook has blocked my Christmas cards from becoming a product in my shop due to their shameful, sexual nature! Please judge for yourself! (Can’t stop laughing!) And if you’d like a pack of six at £5.99 plus postage and packaging let me know.”

Charley said the move had left her mystified, as she could not understand why the paintings were considered inappropriate.

She said: “There’s obviously nothing in the images themselves which is inappropriate. Similarly, there were no ‘trigger’ words used in the cards’ descriptions that I’m aware of. For instance, the robin card was simply called ‘Robin’, not ‘Robin Redbreast’ as some people have wondered.

The artist, who lives in the Scottish Borders, said she had not had any direct response from Facebook, but the interest generated from the gaffe had led to a lifting of the initial ban.

She has since posted a link to her Etsy page, where she is selling the 4x6 inch cards as part of a larger collection.

The odd decision is one in a string of recent judgment-related blunders committed by the social networking site recently. Last year, the firm came under fire for censoring “Napalm Girl”, a Pulitzer prize-winning Vietnam war image that features a severely burned, naked girl.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg was accused by a Norwegian newspaper of “abusing [his] power” in a move that triggered a larger debate about Facebook’s role in the censorship and distribution of news.

More recently, a photo showing a statue of Roman sea god Neptune was also not approved after being deemed “explicitly sexual”. Elisa Barberi, a local writer, attempted to post them on her page earlier this year.

The 16th-century statue, which takes pride of place in the Piazza del Nettuno in Bologna, Italy, presented “an image with content that is explicitly sexual … concentrating unnecessarily on body parts”, a message from the tech firm read.

The message continued: “The use of images or video of nude bodies or plunging necklines is not allowed, even if the use is for artistic or educational reasons.”

Until 2012, Effin, a small village in Limerick, was deemed “offensive” by the site and users were prevented from listing it as their registered “homeplace”.

Facebook has been contacted for comment.