Brilliant important statement, by editor-in-chief Espen Egil Hansen, of the Norwegian daily newspaper Aftenposten, in reply to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s demand to remove a picture of a naked Kim Phuc, fleeing from the napalm bombs – one of the world’s most famous war photographs. Facebook deleted the article as well as the image from Aftenposten’s Facebook page.
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.
The statement reveals more details about Facebook’s rigid universal censorship rules and guidelines.
If you take the liberty to challenge Facebook’s rules, you will be met – as we have seen – with censorship. And if someone will protest against the censorship, he will be punished, as Tom Egeland was.
On Friday, Facebook deleted a post by the Norwegian prime minister in the, by now, escalated row on social media. Norwegian PM Erna Solberg called on Facebook to “review its editing policy” after it deleted her post voicing support for the Afternposten statement.
A couple of hours later, Facebook reinstated the censored image of the ‘napalm girl’ after Mark Zuckerberg was widely accused of ‘abusing power’ and released this statement:
After hearing from our community, we looked again at how our Community Standards were applied in this case. An image of a naked child would normally be presumed to violate our Community Standards, and in some countries might even qualify as child pornography. In this case, we recognize the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time. Because of its status as an iconic image of historical importance, the value of permitting sharing outweighs the value of protecting the community by removal, so we have decided to reinstate the image on Facebook where we are aware it has been removed. We will also adjust our review mechanisms to permit sharing of the image going forward. It will take some time to adjust these systems but the photo should be available for sharing in the coming days. We are always looking to improve our policies to make sure they both promote free expression and keep our community safe, and we will be engaging with publishers and other members of our global community on these important questions going forward.
This case demonstrates just how impossible and illogical it is, trying to live with universal ‘algorithmic’ rules for publication in a time which is multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-everything. Every human practice differs a lot as to geography, politics, social and economic conditions vary.
This is also a a perfect example of how we as “humans” will have to be continuously vivid and alert as to what is happening with the ongoing “algorithmification” of our lives, society and work.