News / USA

At Facebook, Beheading Videos Debated

FILE - Facebook employee walks past a sign at company headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
FILE - Facebook employee walks past a sign at company headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
VOA News
Facebook is caught in the middle of a controversy over free expression, trying to determine which videos of beheadings it should allow on its popular social media Internet site.

Facebook, with more than a billion users worldwide, banned beheading videos in May as psychologically damaging for many of its young viewers. But the U.S.-based company recently ended the prohibition, saying it was reversing its policy so that users could share news about world events, including terrorist attacks and human rights abuses.

But as soon as it had confirmed the policy switch, Facebook drew new criticism over a video showing the bloody decapitation of a woman believed to be caught up in Mexican drug violence.

British Prime Minister David Cameron joined the attacks against Facebook. He said the company was "irresponsible" for allowing the gory video to be posted, especially without a warning that some viewers might find it offensive.

By late Tuesday, Facebook pulled the video of the woman and sought to clarify its policy on posting violent images. It said that posting such videos is acceptable if they are of "public interest or concern," with users often condemning the perpetrators of the violence.

One U.S. social media expert, Fordham University professor Paul Levinson, said in a VOA interview that Facebook was certainly legally free to decide what videos can be posted on its site, including beheadings. But he questioned whether the public needs to see such graphic images in order to understand what happened in a specific circumstance.

"I don't think we need to see a picture of a beheading to know that it's something that should be condemned. But, that said, I think it's up to Facebook to decide. Nobody has to look at them. If people get some kind of sick thrill from looking at them, that's their business," said Levinson.

Facebook says it will continue to remove videos that are posted for "sadistic pleasure or to celebrate violence."

Facebook administrators often face conflicting pressure from various interest groups seeking to impose their own form of censorship. Women's rights groups want the company to ban misogynistic content, while others have criticized Facebook's ban on nudity. Religious groups have sought a prohibition on what they perceive as blasphemous content, while others have complained about Facebook's censorship of critical comments about various religions.  

Levinson said the express purpose of Facebook and other social media sites is "that you, the consumer, create the content." But he said even that freedom of speech has its limits.

"No one would think, and nobody would argue, that you should be able to put up on Facebook some kind of criminal plan to rob a bank with the exact details," he said.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mark1Way from: Charlotte
October 23, 2013 8:15 PM
Seriously, WTF? Facebook changes their mind about as much as they change their privacy policy. It's time we all leave facebook, google, and all the other advertising platforms for websites that actually respect our privacy, such as Ravetree, DuckDuckGo, and HushMail.


by: ananimous from: china
October 23, 2013 12:54 PM
Any way this wicked world is in the hands of the wicked one satan,moral wrong has become civil right,marriage has become b/w a man and a fellow man.do not bother,your governments very soon will legalize marriage b/w men and dogs,beware my king jesus is coming soon,very soon.


by: Iwork@FB from: Menlo Park
October 23, 2013 12:53 PM
New research shows Facebook has lost a total of eleven million users, nine million in the US and two million in Britain. Researchers at the University of Vienna analyzed 600 users and found they quit for the following reasons:
Privacy concerns – 48.3 percent
General dissatisfaction – 13.5 percent
Shallow conversations – 12.6 percent
Fear of becoming addicted – 6 percent
Studies show the majority of users that quit the site were older males. Facebook, among other tech giants, have been repeatedly under scrutiny for their lack of user privacy, including turning over thousands of user’s info to the government. In August, it revealed Facebook submitted information on approximately 38,000 users in 74 countries during the first half of 2013.

Over half of the requests originated from inside of the United States. Tech giants are unable to reveal absolute numbers on how many requests they’ve submitted to because the government prohibits them from doing so. However, companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo have formed a unique alliance and are fighting back. The tech alliance is putting pressure on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court by filing motions asking to publicly disclose more details about secret national intelligence requests, instead of just releasing approximations.

“We believe there is more information that the public deserves to know, and that would help foster an informed debate about whether government security programs adequately balance privacy interests when attempting to keep the public safe,” said Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid