Facebook May Reconsider Policy on Gruesome Beheading Photos

facebook-general1A member of the Facebook Advisory Safety Board said this week that he would raise the issue of beheading photos being allowed to remain on Facebook at the group’s next meeting. The photos, which come from Syria, purport to show victims of the terrorist group Islamic State (IS), the group whose offshoot (ISIS) is currently terrorizing Iraq.

Stephen Balkam, the chief executive of the Family Online Safety Institute, told the BBC that he would encourage the safety board to take steps to protect unwitting users from such graphic content.

“There may be instances in which graphic photos and videos, like the beheadings in Syria, can be justified as being in the public interest,” he said. “However, if they are hosted on Facebook or other social media platforms, there should be… barriers put in place.”

Balkam proposed putting an interstitial or cover over such images, as well as including an age gate to prevent children from seeing them. Though Facebook has said in the past that it allows content like this to remain on the site because of its political value, they did remove the images in question when prodded by the BBC. Still, as critics of the site’s standards argue, Facebook likely needs to introduce a better way for users to tag offensive content for speedy removal.