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Facebook reverses stance on violent video

4:44 AM, Oct 23, 2013   |    comments
Photo by the Associated Press
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Facebook has delved into the issue of free expression vs. damaging content and decided to lean on the side of removing potentially damaging content, according to the All Things Digital website.

On Tuesday, Facebook removed a video of a brutal decapitation of a woman that at first it maintained amounted to free expression.

The debate centered around whether the posting amounted to support for or expression against acts of violence. The video was initially shown in May but taken quickly taken down after complaints that viewers would suffer psychological damage. Recently, it resurfaced, initially prompting Facebook to defend the posting.

FACEBOOK: Social site explores issues surrounding violent video

On Tuesday, the company issued a statement upon its reversal:

"People turn to Facebook to share their experiences and to raise awareness about issues important to them. Sometimes, those experiences and issues involve graphic content that is of public interest or concern, such as human rights abuses, acts of terrorism, and other violence. When people share this type of graphic content, it is often to condemn it. If it is being shared for sadistic pleasure or to celebrate violence, Facebook removes it."

In the statement, Facebook said it was strengthening enforcement of policies by:

  • Making a more "holistic look" at context surrounding violent material, and removing that which celebrates violence.
  • Considering whether a person posting content is sharing responsibly, such as carefully selecting audience and warning the public about the nature of the content.
One reason the video raised concerns is that the social networking site allows memberships for users as young as 13. Last week, Facebook changed its privacy settings to allow teens to share posts, photos and videos.


Melanie Eversley, USA TODAY

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