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By Alan Johnson on January 3, 2017

Facebook has asked an Italian art historian to remove a picture of the sea god Neptune from her page. The 3.2 metre high bronze statue stands in the Piazza del Nettuno, in Bologna, Italy.

Elisa Barbari chose the photo for her Facebook page, called "Stories, curiosities and views of Bologna". However, Facebook told her the image violates its guide lines because it "presents an image with content that is explicitly sexual"

“I wanted to promote my page but it seems that for Facebook the statue is a sexually explicit image that shows off too much flesh. Really, Neptune? This is crazy!” Ms Barbari said, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Facebook told her: "The use of the image was not approved because it violates Facebook’s guide lines on advertising. It presents an image with content that is explicitly sexual and which shows to an excessive degree the body, concentrating unnecessarily on body parts. 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.”

In a post on Facebook, Ms Barbari wrote: "Back in the 1950s, during celebrations for school children graduating, they used to cover up Neptune. Maybe Facebook would prefer the statue to be dressed again."

She asked: "How can a work of art, our very own statue of Neptune, be the object of censorship?”

In November, Facebook was forced to apologise for removing a photograph of a former firefighter with severe burn scars.

The social media site twice took down a picture of Lasse Gustavson after his friend Bjorn Lindeblad posted the photograph to celebrate his 60th birthday. 

The company only restored the image when more than 10,000 people shared a third post by Mr Lindeblad, criticising their “disgusting policy”.

Facebook also made a u-turn over its decision to censor an iconic image of a child victim of the Vietnam War under its nudity guidelines.

The company initially defended the move, saying in a statement: “While we recognise that this photo is iconic, it’s difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others."

But following intense backlash, Facebook said they would  reinstating the image and allow uses to share it due to its “status as an iconic image of historical importance.”

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