Facebook Reverses Ban on Graphic Beheading Videos [UPDATED]
UPDATE: Facebook confirmed that users can share these types of videos as long as they’re not encouraging the activity, and a spokesperson also told me that the company is working on ways to give users more ways to control the kind of content they see.
“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. People share videos of these events on Facebook to condemn them. 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,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
UPDATE 2: Facebook has publicly clarified their policy on graphic violent content.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: In another twist to the just what the hell am I allowed to post on Facebook saga, it appears that the company will once again allow graphically violent videos featuring decapitation – as long as they aren’t posted to promote such activity.
The BBC is reporting that Facebook has made a policy reversal and is now allowing the violent videos to be posted on the basis that whoever posted the video is doing so to condemn such activity, and to shine a light on some shocking element of current events. The BBC was tipped to the fact that “a clip of a masked man killing a woman, which is believed to have been filmed in Mexico,” was recently reinstated on the site.
The video depicts a violent beheading, and is most likely the same video that caused the original uproar and led to such content being banned in the first place. Back in May, after multiple online petitions and the continued pleas from various online safety groups, Facebook decided to ban the video in question and review their policy on similar content.
“Just as TV news programs often show upsetting images of atrocities, people can share upsetting videos on Facebook to raise awareness of actions or causes. While this video is shocking, our approach is designed to preserve people’s rights to describe, depict and comment on the world in which we live,” said a Facebook spokesperson in attempt to explain why the company allowed the video to remain on the site for as long as they did.
But ultimately, Facebook succumbed to external pressure.
Fast forward 6 months, and Facebook is apparently changing it up again.
“People use Facebook to share events through photos and videos. We understand that graphic imagery is a regular component of current events, but must balance the needs of a diverse community. Sharing any graphic content for sadistic pleasure is prohibited,” reads the company’s community standards.
I’ve reached out to Facebook for confirmation of the change, and will update this article when I hear back from them.
When it comes to the issue of Facebook and content removal, the waters are always going to be a bit murky. Although Facebook says that they allow most images depicting breastfeeding and nude art, there are still various instances of Facebook’s outsourced content moderators removing rather innocuous content. The content in question is almost always restored, usually with Facebook issuing some sort of apology. In some cases, you have to cut Facebook some slack – with millions of pieces of individual content going up around the site on a daily basis, there are bound to be some mistakes.
I suspect this development will not fail to stir up the usually amount of controversy. Stay tuned for more on this – I promise it’ll be coming soon.
Image via The Blaze