Decapitation is now officially off limits on Facebook. The social network is deleting uploaded videos of any type of content displaying decapitation – and surprisingly, this is a sudden reversal of its community standards.
Before the decision, Facebook defended its position of allowing its users to upload decapitation videos much to many other user’s chagrin.
The Daily Kos reports that the controversy surrounding the ethics of allowing people to share and view decapitation videos stemmed from a recent upload showing a purported Mexican man – quite possibly a cartel member or gangster – beheading a woman. The video went viral with 6,600 likes and 40,000 shares.
Facebook initially stood its ground and told the Examiner that the video didn’t break the community guidelines. “We only list out what we prohibit on the site, not what we allow, as such we make clear in the Community Standards that this graphic violence must not be promoting or celebrating the act,” said Facebook spokesperson Fred Wolens. Although this video is considered “graphic violence” Facebook felt that it wasn’t celebrating or promoting the act. “Just as TV news programs often show upsetting images of atrocities, people can share upsetting videos on Facebook to raise awareness of actions or causes. While this video is shocking, our approach is designed to preserve people’s rights to describe, depict and comment on the world in which we live,” Wolens explained.
However, despite its initial statement, BBC reports that someone from Facebook’s own safety advisory board was appalled at the video and the fact that it was allowed on the network. Safety organizations also began calling for its removal.
In the wake of the fall out, Facebook consequently backtracked from its earlier statement and told the BBC that Facebook would, “remove instances of these videos that are reported to us while we evaluate our policy and approach to this type of content.”
Now the rhetoric in Facebook’s Community Standards revolving around graphic content is rather open ended. It states:
“People use Facebook to share events through photos and videos. We understand that graphic imagery is a regular component of current events, but must balance the needs of a diverse community. Sharing any graphic content for sadistic pleasure is prohibited.”