As LiveLeak is quick to point out, it has "never hosted every graphic murder or beheading uploaded to our site." This is true. You can't find everything on LiveLeak, but in terms of high-profile, popular tube sites, LiveLeak is the closest thing to 'anything goes' as you're going to find. When YouTube takes it down, head to LiveLeak – that's something that anyone even remotely familiar with the internet knows.
That's why it will come as a shock to many that LiveLeak has decided not to host any future beheading videos from ISIS, should they arise. This decision comes on the heels of the gruesome murder of American photojournalist James Foley, and the promise by the extremist group that there would be more beheadings in the near future.
"We will not be showing further beheadings carried out by IS. We've shown the world the true horror of this form of execution more than once in the past and we cannot find any compelling reason to even be thought of as promoting the actions of this group. We know they do not find support here on LL and that condemnation is virtually universal but there is no reason at all to show more beheadings. Nothing changes about them, they're still relentlessly grim and no deeper insight will be offered by descending into some grotesque "beheading of the week" scenario," said LiveLeak in a statement.
It's important to note that the Foley video is still available on LiveLeak. The site says that the past couple of days have been "a fairly intense affair...given the sheer volume of traffic we've dealt with from people looking for the James Foley beheading video."
This ban only affects future ISIS videos.
LiveLeak makes a point to assuage what they know will be an upset user base, saying:
"This does not mean we won't continue to show graphic media should we deem it reasonable to do so, we will continue despite the regular condemnation, in other words for the most part nothing is going to change. We will not be making publicity driven moves to ban people for trying to upload the media or posting screenshots to discuss it. We simply will not host further beheadings from IS. Some of you will not be happy about this and we are still fully supportive of your right to view this media should you wish and many outlets will be only too happy to have you do so at their site. But our belief in your rights to view whatever you wish do not override our rights to not host it here on LL."
LiveLeak touches on an important point with that last statement. This is not a free speech issue. LiveLeak is a private company, who can make these types of decisions. It is well within its right to do so. Should they is a different question, and one that's debatable.
"Keep in mind, this is not us putting an end to all graphic media nor us saying no beheading will ever turn up on LL in the future. This is us saying we will not have regular beheadings from IS on the site if things go that way."
Let's hope things don't go that way.
Image via Wikimedia Commons