I was emailed by a friend last night and alerted to the fact that Facebook had reversed a ban on videos showing graphic violence such as beheadings. The BBC reported it last night. Then today PM David Cameron tweeted:
After I hastily looked for a petition to sign against this and had an email exchange on what could be done last night, today I was invited to speak on News Hour on Premier Radio. You can listen to the interview here:
I have been trying to decide what is the best course of action. I’m hoping that partly the media furore this has caused will make Facebook reconsider this move. A spokeswoman for Facebook said:
“Facebook has long been a place where people turn to share their experiences, particularly when they’re connected to controversial events on the ground, such as human rights abuses, acts of terrorism and other violent events. 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.”
I believe that the argument that people share these videos to raise awareness of human rights abuses is fundamentally flawed. We don’t need to watch a video of someone being beheaded to know that it is wrong – not to mention the psychological damage to us from seeing these images (and they are not only detrimental to children but to adults as well). Having a warning that the image contains graphic content is an enticing statement (I have to admit that kind of warning usually makes me want to watch the content – so I’m sure children would be even more likely to want to see all the gory details). This clearly does not go far enough. Facebook needs to reinstate the ban immediately.
What seems very strange to me is that Facebook’s own policy on videos is stated as follows:
Photos and videos containing nudity, drug use or other graphic content are not allowed on Facebook. We also don’t allow photos or videos that glorify violence or attack an individual or group.
How these violent videos of beheadings do not violate this policy I do not know.
In an attempt to do something more about this I have created a twibbon campaign.
I will post up here any further campaigns and details as they become available.
Update 23 October