Oops? Tommy Lee's graphic, full-frontal nude photo sparks Instagram censorship debate

A man in dark sunglasses and a hat presents an award onstage
Tommy Lee presents the award for best alternative at the MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center in New York on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (Charles Sykes / Invision / Associated Press)

Rocker Tommy Lee posted a full-frontal nude photo on Instagram and Facebook early Thursday that he cheekily captioned with "Ooooopppsss."

But clearly, the graphic photo's appearance was no mistake. And while the penis pic has since been removed from the platforms, the Mötley Crüe rocker sparked a debate about the social media sites' community guidelines, citing a double standard in that Instagram censored his image differently from others.

Newsweek reported that the image, which showed the heavily tatted musician naked while sitting on the edge of a tub, was up for about four hours — "an insane amount of time," according to one Twitter user.

It's unclear whether Lee removed the image or if Instagram and Facebook took action on the account. Representatives for Meta, the platforms' parent company, did not immediately respond Thursday to The Times' requests for comment.

Before the photo was removed, Lee's wife, Brittany Furlan, commented on the picture with "OH MY GOD," and the dating app Grindr responded with, "Wrong app, babe," according to TMZ.

The 59-year-old drummer also posted a pair of irreverent, phallic-themed photos before and after the nude one as he became a trending topic across the internet.

Lee is no stranger to nude scandals. The rocker made headlines in the 1990s for his infamous sex tape scandal with ex-wife Pamela Anderson, which inspired this year's Hulu series "Pam & Tommy." Although he hasn't yet publicly responded to the latest controversy, commenters were quick to get the conversation going. Many questioned why he posted the photo, while others wondered why the platforms ignored it for so long.

"We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don't allow nudity on Instagram," Instagram's lengthy community guidelines state, citing the posting of content appropriate for diverse audiences (a topic that came up repeatedly during 2019's boisterous "Free the Nipple" debate).

"This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks," the guidelines say. "It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos in the context of breastfeeding, birth giving and after-birth moments, health-related situations (for example, post-mastectomy, breast cancer awareness or gender confirmation surgery) or an act of protest are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK too."

That being said, users still let their feelings be known about Lee's most recent photos and on Twitter.

"Instagram guidelines said idgaf today," one user wrote.

"So we just gon pretend nothing happened huh," added another.

"following tommy lee on instagram is interesting enough but i- sigh. that was traumatizing. how is it still up," wrote a Twitter user who posted a meme of a person washing their eyes out with bleach.

"So Tommy Lee can post a picture of his penis on @instagram that's still up three hours later but a picture of my curvy booty in a thong bikini gets taken down? Cool, cool," tweeted journalist Lola Méndez.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.