Facebook is under attack from a Norway newspaper- Aftenposten- for censorship. The paper through its chief editor published a letter on its front page. It was denouncing Facebook’s high-handedness in censorship involving a Vietnam war photograph that had been removed from Facebook.
The letter started by recognizing the fact that Facebook is leading globally in spreading information. Espen Engil Hansen also noted that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is the most powerful editor in the world. Many journalists and media houses agreed that Mark and Facebook had committed an error. Acting under pressure, on Friday, they decided to reinstate the photograph.
The image is considered to have historical significance because of its status. Therefore, there is value in allowing people to share the photograph than subjecting it to censorship. That is how the picture was returned to Facebook. This has come at the time when people are questioning its journalistic standards.
The Chief Editor reported that his newspaper had received an email that attempted to arm-twist the paper to remove the picture from their profile. This was in vain and Facebook took action. Facebook took less than 24 hours to pull down the photograph.
The article which was deleted by Facebook contained a total of 7 images. The picture just showed a crowd of people fleeing along a road to escape the exploding napalm bombs with a naked girl at the center of the photograph.
What was in the photo?
The photo was taken in Trang Bang village in Vietnam where napalm bombs had been dropped by the Vietnam Airforce. The American forces had suspected that this village was a stronghold for its opponents in the war. As a result if the naked girl in the photo, it became known as “napalm girl” photo.
The napalm girl is a 9-year old girl called Kim Phuc who survived the bombing by tearing off her burning attires and ran down the road towards safety. The photographer of this picture Nick Ut received a Pulitzer Prize.
A number of Norwegian politicians demonstrated their support for the paper’s actions by posting the same photograph. They were removed as well as reported by the Guardian newspaper. The politicians involved included Erna Solberg who is the prime minister of Norway. She called on Facebook to review its policy on editing. Other supports said that Facebook’s actions were a violation on freedom of expression and democracy.