Facebook Inc (NADSAQ:FB) has reversed its policy on extremely violent videos for the second time this week, removing a video of a woman being beheaded that had gone viral, reports Kaylene Hong from6 The Next Web.
Whatever the motivation for watching and distributing such a video (a question worth asking, for sure), Facebook Inc (NADSAQ:FB) is in the tricky position that it doesn’t want to censor its users too much, but it doesn’t want to contribute to the “glorification of violence.” For now it says that it will allow graphic media if it is being used in a context of addressing or combating “human rights abuses, acts of terrorism, and other violence,” while it will remove anything that it sees as sadistic.
The second part, removing sadistic violence, is certainly good policy, but Facebook might have to reconsider allowing violent images even to promote awareness. For people who have experienced violence first hand, graphic images can be a trigger that re-traumatizes them, an issue that is too often ignored by people fortunate enough not to have such triggers. Allowing those images to be spread on Facebook Inc (NADSAQ:FB) could turn it into an unsafe environment. For everyone else, images of a mutilated animal posted by a vegan co-worker is a bad way to start the morning.
Facebook improving interaction among people
Individuals have plenty of ways to restrict who they interact with on Facebook Inc (NADSAQ:FB), but that’s the exact opposite of what Facebook is going for. Facebook is always looking for more ways to help people meet and interact on its platform, and if a small group of activists start sending out pictures that make people recoil, it could drive people away from the site. What has been seen cannot be unseen, as they say.
Facebook Inc (NADSAQ:FB)’s initial decision to allow beheading videos to be shown seemed bizarre, a short-sighted attempt to be all things to all people, and the current episode was inevitable. Wherever Facebook draws the line, some users will push exactly that far. There are other places where people can discuss political violence, along with documentary evidence, and Facebook should allow them to link to those sites so other people who are interested can find them. But removing the video of a woman being beheaded isn’t censorship, it’s discretion.