Facebook Flip Flops Before Finally Deciding to Take Down Beheading Videos

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.

Really, Facebook?

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


Sheila D.
GGmaSheila D4 years ago

SOOOOOO happy I don't belong to ny of those social sites. FB seems to be the go-to place for pedophiles, animal and human abusers, torturers, even murderers to flaunt their crimes against pets, wildlife, and humans. What gets me angry is that FB doesn't seem to care...it's gotten way too big to filter anything. Think that's a crime, literally, that FB doesn't care what's shown on its site, meaning that legally it's aiding and abetting, is being a partner in these crimes. Yet, it's so big that no law enforcement seems to be able to do anything...Only WE, the People can.

If We let companies know that until FB cleans up its act, we won't be "liking" them?? Or maybe all you who go to FB start Not Liking companies and let them know why??

Michael H.
Mike H4 years ago

Facebook is a money whore

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert4 years ago

Zuckerberg is SUCH a complete sellout that I no longer care what he and his robotic minions do.

Winn Adams
Winn A4 years ago


Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago

Sometimes we in the "west" live in a dreamworld or should i say bubble. Sometimes things like this is in fact good to WAKE US UP and DO SOMETHING! But in this case with the FB I belive it is wrong. There are other media`s where things like this belong. Not a moneymakingmachine as FB where profit is most important. The doupt from FB`s side proves this...............

Jennifer Sams
Jennifer Sams4 years ago

I realize that hardly anyone will agree with me, but I feel that these horrible acts NEED to be shown. People who are far removed from conflicts and/or who have never been at war should know exactly who we're dealing with, and who we're supporting. You always have an option to view or not to view the videos... at least I always have on my facebook page. I ALWAYS have to click on the video for it to play... still pictures of those beheaded should also come with that option... only by clicking on a link should you be able to go and see the horror for yourselves. I believe this because some don't believe these things actually occur--no matter how many times they may have heard about it. To understand the true barbarism of anyone who would do this helps you have a better perspective... a better idea about the attitude and mindset of people who would murder others in such a heinous, cruel way.

elizabeth longley

It is sickening beyond belief that Facebook permitted such horrors to be posted on their site. What began as a chatty, innocuous site for people to keep in touch and have fun became a monster - and when barbaric things like a beheading video are permitted there, it's time for a serious rethink.

Nena Miller
Nena MILLER4 years ago

There are some things, in spite of our constitutional rights, that should NOT be available for public viewing.

Nikolas Karman
Nikolas K4 years ago

Face book a CIA creation which saves them millions of bucks in carrying out intelligence work as its sad to see how people reflect their true personalities on it. So my dear brothers and sisters if you have concerns about where you live or intend to visit just visit face book which will give you a clearer picture than any visit to your local police station as they will be busy trying to prevent videos of their illegal activity getting on facebook to worry about what happening in town.

Marianne B.
Marianne B4 years ago

very disturbing