Google doesn’t approve of this ‘explicit’ Bacchus avatar

“WTF?” writes Romenesko reader Ronald Holden after hearing that one of his friends was scolded by Google for using the Bacchus image below for his Google+ avatar. (We’re trying to get permission to use the pal’s name and Google+ URL.)

The friend wrote to Holden:

This is funny — Google “tagged” me somehow and sent a nasty e-mail message because I was using the attached image as the avatar for my account with them (it’s my Facebook image too). They say it’s pornography.Cherub I appealed and argued that it was art, but they’re not changing their tune. Good thing I wasn’t using Michelangelo’s David! He’s got a bigger pecker than poor little baby Bacchus.

The Bacchus photo was in my profile photos folder with a message from Google “stamped” across saying it violated their policies. It’s now gone from there, but it’s still in my Google+ photo file. The message is below, and they actually haven’t responded since I appealed; unless their response was to remove the photo from that one file. I think they consider the image “sexually explicit material” and not artistic . . . or maybe just their software does. I changed my profile image — to one of Santa pissing from a rooftop.

Here’s the policies statement and message that Google sent to Holden’s friend:

Google+ is not a place for pornography or sexually explicit content. Most nudity is not allowed, particularly if it is in a sexual context. There are exceptions for some educational, documentary, scientific, and artistic content, but only if that is the sole purpose of the content, and it is not gratuitously graphic.

“Molto strano, as the Italians might say,” writes Holden.