Facebook has lifted a temporary ban on videos of beheadings in its latest attempt to balance free speech and news value with the comfort levels of its global base of approximately 1.1 billion users.
A Facebook spokesperson said Tuesday it instituted a temporary ban on beheadings in May to review its policy on what violent content should be permitted, and that the ban was not in response to any world event or incident. Celebrating violence on the site is still prohibited, Facebook said. The full statement:
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. People share videos of these events on Facebook to condemn them. If they were being celebrated, or the actions in them encouraged, our approach would be different. However, since some people object to graphic video of this nature, we are working to give people additional control over the content they see. This may include warning them in advance that the image they are about to see contains graphic content.
A Facebook user notified BBC News that the social network refused to remove a video of a masked man killing a woman, the news outlet reported on Monday. Google's YouTube also displays videos of decapitation, but flags content as inappropriate for minors and requires users to verify their age. Anyone 13 years old and older is allowed to be on Facebook and may share content publicly.
British Prime Minister David Cameron used his Twitter account to bash the decision.
It's irresponsible of Facebook to post beheading videos, especially without a warning. They must explain their actions to worried parents.— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) October 22, 2013
The social network's Terms and Conditions page explains that prohibited content includes "photos and videos containing nudity, drug use or other graphic content" along with "photos or videos that glorify violence or attack an individual or group." The Terms and Conditions explains that naked breasts are allowed in cases of breastfeeding and mastectomies, but any other examples of "nudity or other sexually suggestive content" are prohibited.