Facebook said in a statement its rules were more blunt than the company itself would prefer [AP/Reuters]

9 September 2016, OSLO (TSR) – Facebook Inc. on Friday reversed its decision after a barrage of widespread criticisms from the Kingdom of Norway, news organizations including The Santos Republic, and media experts across the globe for abusing its power.

The episode is just the latest editorial blunder for the company, which has become a source of constant controversy in the news industry as Facebook’s role in disseminating information grows larger.

Facebook reversed its decision, saying in a statement to The Santos Republic: “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,” the statement continued.

Like the #Icebucketchallenge, the cryptic social media black and white selfies craze was started by someone with good intentions of raising awareness but the message has been lost as it gone viral. The hashtag #challengeacceptedblackandwhite is not affiliated with any major charity and donations or any sort of action aren’t being encouraged either. The majority of people around the world taking part say it’s to raise cancer awareness but that may not have been the original reason.

Such is how the controversy started as Facebook last month removed the black and white picture from Norwegian thriller writer Tom Egeland’s page because of its rules on nudity.

This photo in question is a historic Pulitzer Prize-winning image, called The Terror of War, by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut from June 8, 1972 of South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, centre, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places.

Norway’s largest newspaper Aftenposten joined in and published the same picture on its Facebook page, which was also censored.

Solberg was one of a string of Norwegian politicians who also shared the iconic image after Facebook deleted a post from Tom Egeland.

The censorship sparked a heated debate about freedom of speech which pushed Espen Egil Hansen, the editor-in-chief and CEO, on Friday to publish front-page open letter to the social media’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, as protest to Facebook’s action.

Hansen called on Zuckerberg to recognize and live up to his role as “the world’s most powerful editor”.

The social media company also deleted early Friday a post by Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg for voicing out against the company’s freedom of speech suppression.

Facebook defended their censorship saying that the company seeks to strike a balance between enabling free speech and “maintaining a safe and respectful experience for our global community”.

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,” an unidentified Facebook spokesperson said in an e-mailed comment. “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.”

After a day of being lambasted, Facebook is backing down from that attitude and policy it issued earlier.

“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”, the statement said.


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