Lasse Gustavson is a tough guy. He knows what it feels like to protect people in danger, and in doing so place himself in harm’s way. He’s a former fireman who was badly injured in a Gothenburg, Sweden oil depot explosion 35 years ago, when he was 24 years old. He was in a coma for two months and woke up permanently scarred. He is now a successful motivational speaker.
An acquaintance, Bjorn Lindeblad, posted a photograph of his brave friend to Gustavson’s Facebook page for his 60th birthday, which was on November 6. For some reason, it was removed. According to The Independent, Facebook only restored the image when more than 10,000 people shared a third post by Lindeblad, critical of their “disgusting policy.” The post now has upwards of 30,000 shares.
Facebook issued this apology on Tuesday: “A member of our team accidentally removed something you posted on Facebook. This was a mistake, and we sincerely apologize for this error. We’ve reinstated the content, and you should now be able to see it.”
In The Independent (via Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper), Gustavson said, “‘It’s an offensive system Facebook has with this kind of censorship. You could call it a kind of racism.'” He said his birthday was unaffected, but it could have been “very damaging” to others in his type of situation.
“When I was 24, I probably would have felt offended and upset that pictures of me were considered wrong and unpleasant,” he said. “It is a very volatile and sensitive time, but now I have lived so long with my burns.”
Gustavson also noted he has known of other cases where those with scars have had their images removed. Facebook wields great power in the world’s media, and with that comes great responsibility. This is a classic case where a little sensitivity and common sense would have gone a long way. This brave man deserves respect, not a post deletion.