Beheadings But Not Breasts: How Does Facebook Define Inappropriate Content?
Social media mega-site Facebook is receiving criticism for allowing the uploading and sharing of graphic and extreme content, including videos of beheadings, but opposing the uploading of images and videos that contain non-sexual nudity -- such as women breastfeeding their children.
The regulations set in place for most western social media outlets, which are available to anyone over age 13, forbid certain photos and videos in an effort to guard viewers from witnessing lewd or inappropriate material, and for Facebook that means that users aren't allowed to post images of breastfeeding mothers, but can show pictures of people being murdered.
Facebook placed and recinded a ban during the spring and summer of this year, which disabled and re-enabled the posting of violent videos -- which were temporarily banned over concerns that the videos could cause long-term damage to users. The ban was lifted, with the reasoning that Facebook is forum for conversation and communication about worldly events, where people should be able to view these videos under the premise of raising awareness, condemning the action, and creating dialogue about the violence that transpired.
Matt Steinfeld, spokesperson for Facebook, said that the site wants its users to publish videos and information of any sort, particularly when users are connected to controversial events on the ground, such as human rights abuses, acts of terrorism and other violent events." He also said that the site wants it to be understood that these images are not on display to celebrate the violence but to create awareness.
CNN called Facebook's statements "laughably inconsistent," stating that the reason for beheading someone and recording it for an audience is to display power. And by showing those images again "Facebook is actively collusive with those actions. It disseminates the fear and intimidation intended in the act."
Facebook users are utterly capable of sharing their thoughts on beheading or violence against women without having to see it. And if users were desperate to see such images, there are other places on the web available to show those images. Facebook isn't as much of a vehicle for social discussion as it might think it is. More so, it is an outlet where users can send shout outs to individuals they haven't seen since high school, and browse the photos of exes. The fact that Facebook allows its audience to post images of woman being slaughtered, but not breastfeeding suggests that it has some sort of deciding claim over what is or isn't to be construed as "inappropriate."
On Tuesday, October 23rd, Facebook removed the footage of a Mexican woman being beheaded by a masked man, and said that in the future, they will take a "holistic look at content."
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