Facebook pledges fewer content removals

The move followed criticism by dozens of rights groups demanding the popular social media platform to clarify its content removal policies after it deleted a photograph of the Vietnam war.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Facebook has more than 1.65 billion monthly active users.

Updated Nov 1, 2016

Facebook will allow more content on its platform that it would have earlier removed because it violated its standards, with new criteria being worked out, a senior executive said on Monday.

The social networking giant has faced criticism over its content removal policies, with the latest case being the removal of an iconic photo of a naked Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack.

"(And) in the weeks ahead, we are going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant or important to the public interest, even if they might otherwise violate our standards," Facebook's director of media partnership for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Patrick Walker told a meeting of the Association of Norwegian Editors in Oslo.

More than 70 rights groups asked Facebook to clarify its content removal policies earlier on Monday, especially at the behest of governments, alleging the firm had repeatedly censored postings that document human rights violations.

Only a month ago, the company and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg came into conflict after the removal of an iconic photo called "The Terror of War."

Solberg posted the photograph on her Facebook page after the company had deleted it from the sites of a Norwegian author and the newspaper Aftenposten, which mounted a front-page campaign urging Facebook to permit publication.

Walker told Reuters, Facebook was at the beginning of the process of changing its guidelines and could not give further details.

Addressing an audience of journalists, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company had to have global standards of content as it was mindful that content, such as nudity, that was acceptable in one country may not be acceptable in another.

"Facebook is trying to isolate this as a question of rules about nudity, about being careful. But this is not the question I am raising," Espen Egil Hansen, the editor-in-chief of Aftenposten, told Reuters.

"The question is whether they now have such a dominant role in distributing information and news that they are becoming a threat to important democratic processes."

Agreements with States

Facebook disabled the accounts of numerous Palestinian journalists, activists and the pages of several popular Palestinian publications earlier this year.

The incident sparked outrage from Palestinian activists and bloggers who demanded Facebook to “clarify the mechanisms implementing agreements between Facebook administration and States.”

The campaign organisers said the incident is linked to an agreement wherein Facebook bowed to pressure by the Israeli government to rein in content that Israel says incites violence.

In one instance, the social media platform deleted a post that shows the ID of a Palestinian born in 1910, aiming to show that she is older than Israel.

Source: 
TRTWorld, Reuters