Facebook lifts ban on beheading videos, may add warnings instead

Facebook has relaxed its restrictions against web videos that depict decapitations or other forms of extreme violence.
Posted By Kate Stanton  |  Oct. 22, 2013 at 8:01 PM
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(UPI) -- There's another twist in Facebook's often convoluted approach toward free speech. While the social media giant's policies prohibit drug use, pornography and nudity (and breastfeeding mothers), it has decided to lift its ban on depictions of extreme violence.

Facebook instituted a temporary ban on graphic violence back in May, when users objected circulating videos of a man beheading a kneeling woman in Mexico. Before conceding to complaints, the company defended its decision to allow the video to remain on the website, claiming that users condemned, rather than glorified, its content.

"People are sharing this video on Facebook to condemn it," a rep said at the time.

Just as TV news programs often show upsetting images of atrocities, people can share upsetting videos on Facebook to raise awareness of actions or causes. ... While this video is shocking, our approach is designed to preserve people's rights to describe, depict and comment on the world in which we live.

Having lifted its ban, the company will now review posts on a case-by-case basis. Extremely violent content will be allowed provided that it does not " "glorify violence or attack an individual or group."

"If the video were being celebrated, or the actions in it encouraged, our approach would be different," a rep told CNNMoney.

The company said it would add warnings to certain content after a disturbing decapitation video surfaced online and was reported to the BBC. After it prompted a Twitter complaint from British Prime Minister David Cameron, Facebook said it would add warnings to such content.

When Gizmodo asked Facebook to clarify its position, a company spokesperson {link:offered this explanation:

One instance that really brought the point home occurred earlier in the year. It was the Boston marathon bombing, and there was a gentleman whose legs had been blown off. If we'd had a more conservative stance, that image would not have been allowed on the site.

What we want to do is give folks the right balance of being able to control what it is they're seeing. We're definitely aware that this is not the perfect policy. We're always trying to improve it.

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