Facebook removes decapitation video

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Facebook’s recent actions have suggested that it believes it is too big to have to worry about basic questions of morality. Subjected to pressure it does grudgingly give ground. It has now partially admitted that allowing graphic videos of decapitation is not really ideal behaviour from a social media site.

The company has performed a U-turn, removed the offending clip and cooked up some new rules governing clips showing extreme violence. In short it has rowed back from a previous stance that seemed to allow the worst kind of click-bait, excusing it on the grounds that users were allowed to show "the world in which we live". When Australian police complained about the video they were told, it "did not violate our community standard on graphic violence".

The change of heart briefly implied that Facebook was doing the decent thing in the face of outraged criticism. Then it issued a bizarre press release that seemed to reserve the right to show that kind of material when it really wanted to.

"First, when we review content that is reported to us, we will take a more holistic look at the context surrounding a violent image or video, and will remove content that celebrates violence," the press release read. "Second, we will consider whether the person posting the content is sharing it responsibly, such as accompanying the video or image with a warning and sharing it with an age-appropriate audience. We have re-examined recent reports of graphic content and have concluded that this content improperly and irresponsibly glorifies violence. For this reason, we have removed it."

In short, Facebook have removed the particular video of a decapitation, but assiduous searchers can still find similar videos on the site. Other sites are more responsible about the material they show. A YouTube spokesman told the BBC: "YouTube's guidelines generally prohibit graphic or violent content, but we make exceptions for material with documentary, or news value. In cases where a video is not suitable for all viewers, we're careful to apply warnings and age-restrictions to safeguard people using our site."

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