Facebook plans on reducing censorship of graphic content

Facebook is going to loosen the strict rules it has regarding the type of content that is allowed to be shared on its social networking service.

The tech giant announced in an official blog post that in the weeks ahead it will begin allowing more content to be shared that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest, even if it might otherwise violate the company’s standards.

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Facebook has been criticised for banning images that are considered to be historically significant.

Joel Kaplan, Facebook VP Global Public Policy, and Justin Osofsky, VP Global Operations & Media Partnerships, said:

“Observing global standards for our community is complex. Whether an image is newsworthy or historically significant is highly subjective. Images of nudity or violence that are acceptable in one part of the world may be offensive — or even illegal — in another.

“Respecting local norms and upholding global practices often come into conflict. And people often disagree about what standards should be in place to ensure a community that is both safe and open to expression.”

Facebook intends to work with its community and partners to determine exactly how it’s going to handle content that goes against its current strict community guidelines “both through new tools and approaches to enforcement.”

The company wants to ensure that more images and stories can be shared, but limit the risk that graphic images are shown to minors or other people who do not want to see them.

“As always, our goal is to channel our community’s values, and to make sure our policies reflect our community’s interests.

“We’re looking forward to working closely with experts, publishers, journalists, photographers, law enforcement officials and safety advocates about how to do better when it comes to the kinds of items we allow. And we’re grateful for the counsel of so many people who are helping us try to get this right,” the blog post concluded.

The news from Facebook comes after the company made headlines by banning images of a naked Vietnamese child running through a field (“Napalm Girl”).

The image of the child fleeing napalm bombs in the Vietnam War, shared by a Norwegian journalist and by the newspaper he works for, was actually a Pulitzer-prize winning war photo.

After heavy media and public backlash Facebook reversed its decision to delete posts containing the photo.