Should videos showing the beheading of human beings ever be available for viewing?
The obvious answer for most people is “no,” but it took a little convincing for Facebook to reach the same conclusion.
The world’s No. 1 social network, with 1.15 billion users, had quietly resumed allowing videos showing decapitation to be posted on the website, after having banned the practice last May. In a BBC report on Monday, October 21, Facebook stated that gory photos and videos were permitted on its site as long as the content was posted in the interests of promoting non-violence, rather than celebrating these heinous acts.
This had nothing to do with your own self-interests and need to make even larger profits?
The international outrage to this hideous decision was immediate, so on Tuesday, October 22, Facebook removed a video of a masked man beheading a woman in Mexico from its website and said it would use a broader set of criteria to determine when gory videos are permitted on the site.
Already facing sharp criticism, Facebook had issued a statement clarifying that violent videos were only allowed if they were presented as news or held up as atrocities to be condemned.
Facebook has long been a place where people turn to share their experiences, particularly when they’re connected to controversial events on the ground, such as human rights abuses, acts of terrorism and other violent events.
If they were being celebrated, or the actions in them encouraged, our approach would be different. However, since some people object to graphic video of this nature, we are working to give people additional control over the content they see. This may include warning them in advance that the image they are about to see contains graphic content.
Facebook’s current community standards do forbid users from posting information that is threatening to others, as well as content that includes hate speech or is sexually explicit, but they seem to have a double standard in enforcing these rules.
While the social media giant has made some good decisions in response to public outcry, such as the banning of puppy mill ads, it continues to make some really bad decisions, too.
Last week Facebook lifted sharing restrictions on users aged from 13 to 17, allowing them to switch their settings to share posts with anyone on the internet, rather than just their “friends” or “friends of friends.” In other words, it allows them to make their content available to total strangers.
In the face of the alarming increase in cyberbullying, this is a horrifying move by Facebook. However, the company dismissed claims that this could make teenagers more vulnerable, by saying that they believed their policy could offer teenagers more choice while still keeping them safe.
Facebook’s statement issued on October 22, indicating their decision to remove the offensive video and re-examine their polices, concluded with this statement:
Going forward, we ask that people who share graphic content for the purpose of condemning it do so in a responsible manner, carefully selecting their audience and warning them about the nature of the content so they can make an informed choice about it.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has been one of Facebook’s most vociferous opponents, and on October 23 he tweeted that he is “pleased Facebook has changed its approach on beheading videos. The test is now to ensure their policy is robust in protecting children.”
Let’s hope Facebook sticks to its promise to review its policies and to remove all content that promotes violence.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
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