The Iconic Photograph That Didn’t Make it Past Facebook’s Censors
The black-and-white photograph is iconic: It shows children, including a naked girl, wailing in pain in the aftermath of a napalm attack during the Vietnam War. Its impact turned the tide of American public opinion against the conflict and won the man who took it, Nick Ut, a Pulitzer Prize. But this week, the photograph did not make it past Facebook’s censors.Tom Egeland, the Norwegian author, recently tried to post historic images from war on Facebook. On Wednesday, Facebook deleted one of those images—the one at the top of this story. When Egeland reacted to the deletion, that post was deleted, too, and his account suspended, according to Aftenposten, a Norwegian newspaper.
Espen Egil Hansen, the editor of Aftenpost, in an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, outlined what happened when the newspaper posted its story, with the image, on Facebook.
The demand that we remove the picture came in an e-mail from Facebook’s office in Hamburg this Wednesday morning. Less than 24 hours after the e-mail was sent, and before I had time to give my response, you intervened yourselves and deleted the article as well as the image from Aftenposten’s Facebook page.
He added: “I am writing this letter to inform you that I shall not comply with your requirement to remove a documentary photography from the Vietnam war made by Nick Ut. Not today, and not in the future.”
Hansen called Zuckerberg “the world’s most powerful editor,” but said the social-network site’s actions and policies restricted Hansen’s ability to do his job as editor of Norway’s largest newspaper—and amounted to an abuse of power.
If you will not distinguish between child pornography and documentary photographs from a war, this will simply promote stupidity and fail to bring human beings closer to each other.
A Facebook spokesman told The Guardian: “While we recognize that this photo is iconic, it’s difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others.”
“We try to find the right balance between enabling people to express themselves while maintaining a safe and respectful experience for our global community. Our solutions won’t always be perfect, but we will continue to try to improve our policies and the ways in which we apply them.”
WARNING: If you click on the link the article includes the photo.
To the extent that Facebook has become the world’s news gateway we’re in big trouble. Right after they reduced the number of human editors for their trending news feature it was plagued by inaccurate stories.