Facebook is again allowing users to post violent videos after a temporary ban. The original ban came after gory videos showing decapitation circulated on the social media site. Complaints lead these types of videos getting banned in May, but beheading fans can breathe easy this week.
As CNN Money reports, Facebook isn’t exactly encouraging users to post snuff films. A spokesperson from Facebook says that these types of videos and images are only permitted if they intend to condemn the acts.
For the record, the website’s user conditions state that videos and pictures that “glorify violence or attack an individual or group” are still not allowed. Facebook says it is considering putting a warning on all violent videos, but no decision has been made.
The policy shift was only revealed after users were unable to have a video depicting a masked man murdering a woman banned from Facebook, reports BBC News. The video was originally posted last week, allegedly from Mexico. When the social media website continued to refuse requests to ban the video, they issued a public explanation.
“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 spokesperson for the website says.
The backlash against Facebook’s violent video ban came quickly. BBC News spoke to a former psychologist who works in suicide prevention, Dr. Arthur Cassidy. Cassidy says that “it only takes seconds of exposure to such graphic material” to create a damaging long-term effect on a person, especially if they are young.
British Prime Minister David Cameron is perhaps the most prominent figure to denounce Facebook’s new policy. Cameron says it is “irresponsible” of the social media website to allow users to post violent material. Facebook, he says, “must explain their actions to worried parents.”
Others have pointed out that Facebook still outright bans pictures and videos of drug use, nudity, or pornography. So while a picture of a mother breastfeeding her infant will get banned from the website, a video of a man being beheaded is permitted. Critics may be right to find Facebook’s policies disjointed or even arbitrary.
Facebook says graphic posts will be screened. However, it is not clear how this will be done. The site says its policies may change as they are constantly under review.
What do you think? Is Facebook a social media platform or a news source? Is this policy change a matter of censorship, and if so, is Facebook being hypocritical by banning certain non-violent content?