By Imane Rachidi
The Hague, 13 Aug (efe-epa).- Facebook and Instagram’s ban of Dutch holiday character Black Pete has sparked debate in the Netherlands.
Zwarte Piet, which translates as Black Pete, is Saint Nicolas’ assistant in Dutch folklore and is traditionally portrayed by a white person in blackface with red lips and a curly wig.
Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram updated their policies on hate speech earlier this week to ban content showing images of blackface.
Moderators of the platforms will remove photographs of the character if someone complains about them, the company said.
“Worldwide, blackface is part of an ongoing history of dehumanization and denied civil rights,” it added in a statement.
It continued: “Images and videos of Black Piet that contain blackface may be removed from Facebook and Instagram when they are reported to us.”
Facebook sought advice from 60 organizations and experts around the world before making the decision, which took nine months.
The debate around the issue has become increasingly polarized and the figure has been at the center of social and political discussions for the past few years.
Race campaigners have long been calling for an end to the blackface character while others have argued that the new measures are a violation of freedom of expression.