• ABC TV’s 8MMM program depicting Australian Aboriginal women taking part in a traditional ceremony. (ABC/YouTube)
Questions are being asked about how Facebook balances censorship and cultural practice after the company pulled a trailer of ABC TV’s 8MMM program citing potential 'offensive nudity'.
Andrea Booth

14 Apr 2015 - 4:32 PM  UPDATED 15 Apr 2015 - 6:10 AM

The trailer depicted Indigenous Australian women taking part in a traditional ceremony, showing them painted in ochre and uncovered torsos.

Facebook's removal of the content has raised questions about how the social media monolith deals with traditional cultural practices in a digital world.

Associate Professor Ruth Barcan from the University of Sydney, who specialises in nudity and feminist cultural studies of the body, says "even within one single tradition nudity can be so complicated, let alone when people across different cultural backgrounds are interpreting it.

"But in a quite simple way Facebook has a set of easily determinable rules."

Sydney's University of Technology digital studies lecturer, Dr Bhuva Narayan, says better attention must be given to digital content that involves Indigenous Australia.

"It's time for us to revisit the [amended 2010] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library Protocols for Library Archives and Information Services in this age of digitalisation and social media."

The protocols are a guide on how information services should handle Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in a culturally appropriate way. 

Dr Narayan said the post could have been removed because Facebook’s algorithms automatically detected it or a user reported the content.

If a post is taken down for breaching policy, the page owner can republish the post, if they can prove it is acceptable content by context.

Another option is to create an 'authorised page' so "then Facebook would take a bit more care in investigating what content is questionable," said Dr Narayan.

NITV has contacted the ABC to ascertain which First Nation the women belong to; NITV has also contacted Facebook for comment.