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Mon Jun 1, 2020, 07:53 PM

Facebook Suspends Top Photo Colorist For 'Dangerous' WWII Images

Russian photo colorist Olga Shirnina has stunning new work ready to post for her more than 45,000 followers on social media but is unwilling to share three new images on Facebook and Instagram because, as she told RFE/RL, “I would be [suspended] again for sure.”

https://www.rferl.org/a/facebook-suspends-russian-colorist-for-war-imagery/30641859.html


An image colorized by Olga Shirnina that was finished on May 26. The photo shows a wreath-laying ceremony in Warsaw in 1939, several months before Nazi Germany invaded Poland. This is one of three images Shirnina says would almost certainly result in a suspension of her account if she were to post it to Facebook.



Shirnina (above), who works under the name Klimbim, is a professional German-Russian translator and considered one of the best in the world at using Photoshop to transform historic black-and-white images into color. The Moscow-based translator and history enthusiast says she spends hours on her computer researching, then adding vibrance to monochrome historic images “purely for pleasure.” Shirnina has been profiled in leading news and art websites around the world and labels her work free for anyone to use not-for-profit. Photos in her colorized collection are a mixture of daily life, portraits, and historic photojournalism from around the world. None of her captions include political commentary.


A 1916 image of Russian Tsar Nicholas II colorized by Shirnina.

In September 2019, Shirnina received her first notification from Instagram that an image she colorized of senior Nazi leaders had “violated community guidelines” and that her account could be deleted if she posted similar content in the future.


A notification from Instagram that Shirnina had violated Instagram’s rules on “dangerous organizations.”


The image that was pulled from Instagram in September 2019 showing Heinrich Himmler (left) meeting with German Ambassador to Poland Hans-Adolf von Moltke in 1939.

In the following months, several more of Shirnina’s colorized photographs were removed from both Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. The situation escalated when Shirnina’s Facebook account was suspended after she posted the image below of two Nazi soldiers during a battle in Ukraine. No Nazi insignia is visible in the photo, suggesting the image may have been flagged by a person rather than through automation. Shirnina was again warned she had broken Facebook rules on dangerous organizations. It would prove the first and last time she says an appeal was successful.


Two Nazi soldiers in Kharkhiv, Ukraine, in 1943



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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 07:57 PM

1. That's fucked up. That's whitewashing history.

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Response to Beakybird (Reply #1)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 08:25 PM

4. Well, so is colorizing historical photographic documents

That is not what Facebook was contesting. But I am. I thought we put the issue of colorization to bed back in the 1990s.

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Response to frazzled (Reply #4)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 08:39 PM

5. lol, no it is not

Well, so is colorizing historical photographic documents


What's next for you, saying printed books should not reprint cuneiform?

Vinyl rips into digital formats are a crime against music?

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Response to Celerity (Reply #5)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 08:43 PM

8. Go ahead and laugh

It’s a slippery slope.

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Response to frazzled (Reply #8)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 08:47 PM

9. slippery slope to what? Human endeavour is always in a constant state of technological development

and there is nothing wrong at all with revisiting history with tools to explore it in new ways.

I love to see the colourised versions of older photos. They make it more relatable and add new context.

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Response to frazzled (Reply #4)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 08:42 PM

7. you are adorable.

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Response to frazzled (Reply #4)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 09:12 PM

11. What's wrong with colorizing historical images?

I find it's psychologically effective. People tend to look at black-and-white images and mentally file them as "something that happened a long time ago" that they don't have to worry about now. But pictures in full color look current and present. Harder to file away. You can imagine yourself meeting these people and being in these situations more easily. It makes the past feel "real" and we need that.

The old debate over colorizing films was over the colorized versions being the only ones available. That's not what's happening here. This is digital art, she's not literally painting over original photographs. The b&w originals still exist.

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Response to Withywindle (Reply #11)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 09:45 PM

12. Any archivist will disagree

We’ve already put to rest the controversy over colorizing black-and-white films. The consensus is: it should never be done. The brief infatuation with colorized films was driven straight out of town.

The same should apply to black-and-white photographs. Reason one is that they falsify the historical record. The suggestion that they are more appealing to viewers is not a good reason. Should we rewrite the Declaration of Independence or the Treaty of Versailles to make the language hipper and more appealing to modern readers?

This is a particularly interesting case, coming from a Russian. Because back in Stalinist times there actually were artists who were hired specially to doctor historical photos, often removing unpalatable figures from the images. The same figures were not infrequently “erased” in real life.

This is the slippery slope I spoke of. Restoration of paintings or films or photographs to their original states by highly trained restorers is one thing. Changing or “improving” them is another. These images did represent things that happened long ago, when b&w photography was the norm. What’s wrong with understanding history? Or preserving it. Each generation’s visual tastes will change. we can’t keep changing historical facts to satisfy people’s changing tastes.

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Response to Withywindle (Reply #11)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 11:20 PM

13. I agree with you. The photos in color startles the mind and cause

focus on the horror of what one is viewing. Black and white images don't have that impact, unless the black and white photos are ones like where something evil is happening, like an Gestapo agent executing a Jewish prisoner and the photographer caught the moment the person was killed.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 08:02 PM

2. Have they ever wrapped their minds around the concept of history? nt

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 08:03 PM

3. Screw Mark Zuckerberg

And Facebook and Instagram. He bears some responsibility for the demon in the White House. History should never be covered up.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 08:41 PM

6. Well, considering how Donald Trump would get an instant tiny woody, maybe it's for the best.

I'm kidding, I doubt he can even manage a tiny woody.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Jun 1, 2020, 08:57 PM

10. I guess being a Proud Boy, Boogaloo, White Supremacist, White Nationalist


are not considered organized hate, or terrorist, organized violence-criminal activity.

Zuckerberg is very selective in his policies. Bless his puny little heart.

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