Facebook will allow for users to post videos and images depicting gore and graphic violence, effectively dropping the ban it implemented earlier this year. The ban was enacted due to complaints from a number of users.
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The announcement came following a report on the BBC. Facebook stated that the photos and videos would be allowed only if the intent was to condemn acts of violence instead of parade them or put them up for shock value or encourage them.
The concept of “intent” makes the decision a questionable one as it could easily be argued that the point for putting such content up was to condemn acts and still get by with the possible actual intent of shock for shock’s sake.
Facebook’s rules and standards state that users aren’t allow to post content that condones violence, threatens people, hate speech, and is sexually explicit in nature.
Of the decision Facebook released a statement which 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.”
The statement went on to say “People share videos of these events on Facebook to condemn them. If they were being celebrated, or the actions in them encouraged, our approach would be different.”
As a means to quell concerns, Facebook is reportedly working on new methods to allow members to handle and possibly block content they come across that might be graphic. The minimum of which includes advanced warnings.
The video that sparked the ban earlier this year was one of masked men killing a woman in Mexico.
Organizations with a history of violence and/or criminal activity are not allowed on Facebook. The company also said that posting “graphic content for sadist pleasure is prohibited.”
UPDATE: It appears that Facebook has decided to bundle up the decision to allow graphic content to be posted on the site. Just this week they lifted the ban which was originally caused earlier this year over a widely circulated beheading video.
To curb the potential torrent of protesting for allowing such content back—and maybe the flood of graphic content that would’ve come in—Facebook removed the post. Facebook has also had trouble dealing with artistic nudity having banned bare breasts, but allowing content that depict violence against women.
Tackling content on sites has always been a problem and that problem becomes even harder to deal with when the site is open to the public or the company behind a family of sites is a household name. Simply put, these companies have users to cater to and that balance is difficult when handling freedom of speech and artistic expression.
On top of that, there are sponsors that cater to very wide demographics. Pepsi, Sony, and so on are general audiences companies that advertise on a variety of sites. While gorehounds and ghouls might be included in that general audience, they’re not the focus. If graphic content offends users who might buy sponsors’ products or check out their shows, films, and so on that’s a problem.
So Facebook gave their explanation on why the beheading video was allowed back on the site saying that people were condemning the action. While that is obviously a good thing, the same video that is condemned by some or most could easily circulation among people who enjoy the shock or celebrate such violence.
At any rate, Facebook—perhaps after sitting and discussing it—released a statement Tuesday saying that they removed the video. The reason given was that they “concluded that this content improperly and irresponsibly glorifies violence.”
There are definitely many elements that went into the decision to pull the video and Facebook will most likely put more thought into what gets through and how to balance freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and sponsor wishes.