Facebook’s rules on what images users can and can’t post are often confusing, but the site’s enforcement of these rules is often even more baffling. That was the case recently when the site censored an iconic photo from the Vietnam War featuring a naked young girl running away from a napalm attack on her village.
The controversy began when popular Norwegian journalist Tom Egeland posted a Facebook status on how photography can change the world. His post included the picture of the young girl, which won a Pulitzer Prize when it was originally published. However, Facebook deleted the image, causing an outrage among many Norwegian users – some of whom began to post the picture themselves in protest. But Facebook continued to delete many of these images, too.
What’s worse, when Egeland shared a news article about the controversy, Facebook blocked that, too, and suspended his account for 24 hours. Another newspaper editor, Gunnar Stavrum, wrote an editorial that was critical of Facebook for censoring the image, and when he shared it on the site, the link was removed.
“When Facebook removes an editorial from a Norwegian newspaper, it shows the online community a lack of respect for editorial freedom unlike anything I have ever seen,” Stavrum said regarding the removal of his editorial.
This certainly all seems like a big misunderstanding, but Facebook’s continued efforts to remove the image – and stories about the controversy – is troubling.