Photos and videos of Zwarte Piet are now prohibited on Facebook and Instagram, Facebook, the company behind the two social networks, announced on Tuesday. These are images in which the image is promoted of a Piet with a black make-up skin and other stereotypical characteristics, such as a wig with curls or large lips.

Images in which Piet is portrayed as a racist caricature will be removed by Facebook when the message is reported. The policy is part of a broader global approach to blackface.

"By blackface, we mean that a person has a distinct black or darker face paint, coupled with stereotyping elements such as large earrings, an afro wig or large lips," explains a Facebook spokesperson.

Images of Zwarte Piet are allowed if the image is used to talk neutrally about the phenomenon of Zwarte Piet, in neutral reporting on the subject and to condemn the racist caricature.

Facebook lists large earrings, a wig with curls and large lips as the main stereotypical features. The policy has more points, but these characteristics are not disclosed to prevent people from pushing the boundaries.

These images of Zwarte Piet will be removed:

  • A person whose skin has been darkened with, for example, make-up or shoe polish and has other stereotypical characteristics
  • A family photo in which a child, for example, sits on a Zwarte Piet's lap
  • An image of Zwarte Piet with or accompanied by the text stating that Zwarte Piet is not racist
  • An image of Zwarte Piet with the text in which someone states that they would rather hold on to this form of Piet than a soot sweeper

The new policy applies to all types of images: photos and videos shared in posts, profile photos, background photos and Instagram Stories, images that disappear after 24 hours. The policy is retroactive. So even images posted before Tuesday can be removed.

Initially, the image will be deleted after a violation without further consequences. In the event of frequent violations, Facebook may resort to other measures, such as warnings, temporary or permanent blocking of accounts, pages or groups. "But this is very much dependent on what exactly happens."

Blackface, and thus Zwarte Piet, is 'forbidden, unless ...'

Showing images of blackface or Zwarte Piet is only allowed in exceptional cases. The Facebook spokesperson compares the policy to how the company deals with images of animal cruelty.

"Showing abused animals is not allowed. But the problem should not be hidden away. An animal rights activist still wants to show what is wrong with the treatment of animals in certain cases. Those gruesome images are normally not allowed, but if you do so with that. still want to make your point, you should be able to do that. "

These images of Zwarte Piet will NOT be removed:

  • Images of Zwarte Piet that do not show a combination of a painted face and other stereotypical features
  • A news photo of the arrival of Sinterklaas where only Zwarte Pieten are walking around
  • Pieten with no blackface features, such as Pieten with some soot sweeps (soot sweep pieten or chimney piets)
  • The rule of thumb is: images of Blackface and Zwarte Piet will be removed, unless Facebook determines that it is an exception

Facebook emphasizes that it is a global policy against the use of blackface, and not specifically against Zwarte Piet. "We are always looking at whether our guidelines need to be adjusted to see if we should do things better," said the Facebook spokesperson. "We mainly looked at the phenomenon of blackface."

"Until now we had no rule for the figure. Experts say that blackface is racist. That's how this policy came about. As a result, Zwarte Piet is also prohibited. Because the figure has elements of blackface, it is no longer automatic. allowed. It's a decision that not everyone will appreciate, but one that we stand for. "

See also: The black pete policy of social media: 'YouTube raises a smoke screen'