UPDATE: Facebook has re-evaluated the video and reversed its decision.
Social network Facebook is defending a controversial move to allow the sharing of beheading videos and other violent content on its site, saying its users should be free to condemn such acts to help raise awareness of them.
This past weekend, a video of a woman being beheaded in Mexico for the alleged crime of adultery gained international attention when it began circulating on the social network. Despite numerous requests from users to have the video removed, Facebook confirmed it has made an active decision to allow the content on the site.
"Facebook has long been a place where people turn to share their experiences, particularly when they're connected to controversial events on the ground, such as human rights abuses, acts of terrorism and other violent events," a Facebook spokesperson told the BBC. "People are sharing this video on Facebook to condemn it. If the video were being celebrated, or the actions in it encouraged, our approach would be different.”
Naturally, because Facebook is used by children as young as 13, there is a lot of valid concern about innocent eyes being overwhelmed by a real-life snuff film. “It is irresponsible of Facebook to post beheading videos, especially without a warning,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron on Twitter. Will Gardner of Childnet International, Stephen Balkam of the Family Online Safety Institute and Dr. Arthur Cassidy of the Yellow Ribbon Program suicide prevention group all shared in the condemnation, calling the video nightmare fuel.
Facebook has responded today with a statement saying, “since some people object to graphic video of this nature, we are working to give people additional control over the content they see. This may include warning them in advance that the image they are about to see contains graphic content.”
The social network’s decision to allow the beheading to remain is a bit of a head scratcher, especially considering how active the company has been in stifling controversial content in the past. New mothers, for instance, have complained that Facebook routinely scrubs breastfeeding pictures from the site.