Exclusive: Facebook bans a classical record cover

Exclusive: Facebook bans a classical record cover


norman lebrecht

May 24, 2022

Martin Anderson runs a small label, Toccata Classics, that specialises in underpromoted composers of genuine distinction.

Among his latest releases in an album of piano music by the Ukrainian-Soviet composer Yuri Shaporin (died 1966).

An advertisement for the album was rejected by Facebook.

Apparently the image is too controversial for the Meta thought police.

It shows a man smoking.



  • Robert Hairgrove says:

    Hmmm …

    I guess they would have to ban the incredible photos of Otto Klemperer and Wilhelm Backhaus by Klaus Hennch on pp. 13-14 of this document as well:


  • Ross Amico says:

    Reminds me of when Alexandre Tansman posthumously quit smoking.

    Here’s the original image:


    And here it is on Chandos (click to enlarge):


    What’s next, photoshopping Shostakovich’s liver spots? Let the Slavs be Slavs already!

  • V.Lind says:

    I get the same sense of disgust and contempt when I see the “warning” before a film or TV series because the following might include “smoking.” I get almost as much seeing shows about cops and military people and other professions in which absolutely nobody smokes.

    What’s next, banning photos of Churchill with his cigar, or FDR with his cigarette holder?

    Christopher Hitchens, RIP.

    • PAMELA DOBULER says:

      Yes, that will be next

    • Herr Forkenspoon says:

      In Thailand the govt. bans images of people smoking and drinking and women’s cleavage. They place a smoky veil over the objects. It’s ridiculous because everyone, including the children it’s supposed to protect, know what’s not being shown. Such is the nature of censorship.

    • Gerry McDonald says:

      Could be worse. Re runs of the Richard Greene Robin Hood series have trigger warnings about swords! ( Nothing about bows and arrows though!)

  • AlbericM says:

    So digitally remove the cigarette. His hand will still look normal, while smoking is no longer normal behavior.

  • Kathleen King says:

    Oh, for Pete’s sake!

  • Jean says:

    Russian hackers, of course, wanted to sabotage this Ukraine release… Probably Meta received too many complaints.

  • PaulD says:

    What’s next? Banning pictures of Bette Davis or Humphrey Bogart?

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Next up for prohibition, Honegger’s book “I am a Composer” because the cover shows him puffing thoughtfully on his pipe.
    Some of the Rubinstein – Heifetz – Piatigorsky films show one or more of them with cigarette in hand. Piatigorsky is smoking on the cover of his RCA Victor LP of the Barber and Hindemith Sonatas, and I have seen other of his publicity photos showing him smoking. The bitter irony is that he died of lung cancer, but there was a time when classical musicians wanted to project a “just plain folks” image and smoking was deemed one way to do it.

  • japecake says:

    It sets a bad example for all of the impressionable kids into keyboard music by lesser mid-century Soviet composers.

  • AndyHat says:

    Facebook doesn’t care about depictions of smoking. I can pretty much guarantee you that the problem is bad AI image recognition that has misidentified the composer’s bald head as another body part…

  • Robert Holmén says:

    I suspect no human was involved in the decision.

    Their AI photo-bot probably thought the bald head was a cheek.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    It’s silly, but I’d rather think about loved ones who smoked and I lost prematurely.

  • Ruben Greenberg says:

    The great tenor, Jess Thomas, once said that he didn’t consider himself a singer that smoked: he considered himself a smoker that sang.

  • Simon Scott says:

    Bloody silly. Now, where did I put my fags…?

  • Michael says:

    I suppose that means that we will have to get rid of nearly every picture there is of Leonard Bernstein.

  • Max Raimi says:

    I hope that in images from our present time, the prevailing tableau of everybody staring at their phones will one day seem as dated as all the cigarettes and men in hats appear to us now in those movies from the 1930s up to 1960 or so.

    • SoulCollector says:

      Yep, as soon as ibrain is available (where cell phones are inserted into our brains like animal trackers) the censoring can begin.

  • Byrwec Ellison says:

    As useful as the technology is, there’s still a lot that’s wrong with social media as a platform to promote or propagate musical performances. This — capricious objections to “harmful” content — is just one of the barriers you face, an incredibly preposterous example here.

    But possibly the more common nuisance is the fictitious copyright claim that publishers and recording companies frequently lodge against demonstrably original content by performers. The comic duo TwoSet Violin tried to illustrate the problem in a video they posted just 10 days ago (https://youtu.be/KbbejIoYITc) in which the guys played short snippets of classic pieces with the specific aim of generating 100 bogus copyright claims from YouTube, so-called “copystrikes.”

    Brett and Eddy haven’t disclosed yet how many strikes they got from YT, but my orchestra had a truckload of copystrikes earlier this month when we attempted to live-stream a concert on Facebook. The two works that generated the copyright claims were Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Both works are in the public domain, but more to the point, they were performed by us with a couple of young soloists who were the winners of a student competition. During the concert stream, Naxos of America lodged so many claims against the performances that our live-stream was shut down in mid-performance. Among the copyrights we were alleged to have infringed were commercial recordings by Franco Gulli, Jascha Heifetz, Walter Barylli, Michael Rabin, David Oistrakh, Fritz Kreisler, Suyeon Kim, Gyorgy Pauk, Yevgeny Sudbin and Boris Bloch.

    It took a week for Naxos to acknowledge that the infringement claims were improper, but as soon as the company released the strikes against us, Sony Entertainment weighed in with its own copyright infringement claims. The artists we were alleged to have stolen from included Jascha Heifetz (again), Cho-Liang Lin, Pinchas Zukerman, Kun-Woo Paik, Sergei Rachmaninoff & Eugene Ormandy, Vladimir Feltsman, Andre Watts, Byron Janis and Yefim Bronfman.

    It’s as if these companies so aggressively battle pirates that they throw everything they have at the providers of original content, and they pay no penalty for lodging these erroneous claims.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      There is a concept in law called “slander of title” and while I suspect no lawyer could be tempted to take up the case, it seems to me an argument exists that falsely claiming that someone has violated your copyright could, when in fact the item is P.D., be characterized as a form of slander of title. If there is to be a penalty for these bogus claims, I think it is slander of title that we’d have to look at. But it’s likely more interesting as theory than lucrative as a cause of action.

  • Bucko Buckerson says:

    That’s one way to get noticed.

  • David ClarinetGuru says:

    Unfortunately real people don’t see any of that nor any of the complaints by Facebook members against other members attacking them. A Computer adjudicates it which is truly a joke……. Can make a quite dangerous situation when those who complain, but aren’t heard………

  • J Barcelo says:

    A Brave New World being run by immature children.

  • Thomas Lund says:

    And all the lies, misinformation, and nonsense on FB are just fine with Zuck and company. Why anyone even use FB is a mystery to me. When I tired FB, I was deluged with hundreds of images of young bikini clad girls. I had not provided my age or sex in my profile.

  • SoulCollector says:

    Yet, Facebook has absolutely no concern for young minds when they refuse to remove hateful images and words posted by the many white American hate-groups and individual Nazi wannabees. The US is becoming more and more backward.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      The US is deeply divided because about half its population is becoming very backward. Social media has been an extremely important contributing factor. This includes not only FB, Twitter etc, but also blogs all over the world that promote or tolerate hate speech and disinformation, including Covid disinformation.

    • R. Missoula says:

      White hate groups? Check your review mirror for BLM, Antifa, Marxists, etc.

  • William Gross says:

    The American broadcasting award named in honor of Edward R. Murrow comes with a picture of this iconic figure carefully cropped to hide the fact he is holding a cigarette in his hand.

  • M McGrath says:

    Leave it to the American company Facebook to ban a visual because it shows someone smoking. One would think after the most recent mass murders in the US that smoking is the least of US concerns…

    Would that all three so-called SUPERPOWERS would just crawl into their holes and SHUT UP for the next 20 years.

  • Alexander Graham Cracker says:

    I recall seeing a photo or two of the great Radu Lupu holding a lit cig.

  • Yenda Smejkal says:

    What sn absolute joke.
    Facebook has got ridiculous.
    It’s a historic photograph from a time when people smoked.