October 23, 2013

Facebook wrestles with challenge of gruesome content

The social media giant is sharply criticized for withdrawing its ban on videos of beheadings.

The Associated Press

LONDON – Facebook announced Tuesday it was working on new ways to keep users from stumbling across gruesome content on its website following an outcry over the discovery of beheading videos there.

The controversy – which has drawn critical comment from British Prime Minister David Cameron – illustrates the difficulty of setting a universal standard across the social network used by 1 billion people.

Facing sharp criticism, Facebook Inc. issued a statement clarifying that violent videos were only allowed if they were presented as news or held up as atrocities to be condemned.

“If they were being celebrated, or the actions in them encouraged, our approach would be different,” the company said in a statement.

“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 banned beheading videos in May but recently lifted the prohibition – a development flagged by the BBC on Monday. A few groups have since condemned the social network for potentially exposing users to the violent content.

Cameron, whose right-leaning government has unveiled several initiatives to censor objectionable content online, said Tuesday allowing the beheading videos back on Facebook was “irresponsible.”

Facebook’s administrators face constant pressure from interest groups trying to impose their own forms of censorship or fighting to lift restrictions they see as oppressive.

Violent news content poses particularly thorny questions for a website that allows children as young as 13 to join.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)