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23.10.2013 16:55

Facebook lets beheading clips return to social network

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Facebook Video

Facebook is allowing videos showing people being decapitated to be posted and shared on its site once again.

The US firm believes its users should be free to watch and condemn such videos. It added it was, however, considering adding warnings. The social network had

introduced a temporary ban in May following complaints that the clips could cause long-term psychological damage. The ban has been lifted though.

One suicide prevention charity condemned the move. "It only takes seconds of exposure to such graphic material to leave a permanent trace - particularly in a young person's mind," said Dr Arthur Cassidy, a former psychologist who runs a branch of the Yellow Ribbon Program in Northern Ireland. "The more graphic and colorful the material is, the more psychologically destructive it becomes."

The firm was also refusing to remove a page showing a clip of a masked man killing a woman. Some Facebook users complained about a video showing a decapitation being allowed to remain on the site.

It was posted last week under the title, Challenge: Anybody can watch this video?

"Remove this video too many young innocent minds out there shouldn't see this!!!" wrote one user in the comments section below. "This is absolutely horrible, distasteful and needs to be removed... there are too many young minds that can see this. I'm 23 and I'm very disturbed after seeing a couple of seconds of it," wrote another.

The social network later confirmed it was allowing such material to be posted again. "People are sharing this video on Facebook to condemn it. If the video were being celebrated, or the actions in it encouraged, our approach would be different.”

Facebook originally pulled decapitation videos after the Family Online Safety Institute - a member of its Safety Advisory Board - complained that they "crossed a line". The charity's leader Stephen Balkam told the BBC he was surprised by the latest development.

"I went to have a look at the video and there's no warning label nor is there any condemnatory context. It's just sort of up there and the first image you are presented with is a woman's head being held by a guy. "I'm very unhappy that these have gone back up and that they have gone up without any warning. First thing tomorrow morning I intend to raise this with Facebook."

Another of the board members, London-based Childnet International, said it also had concerns. "Such content should be taken down," said its chief executive Will Gardner.

"I have seen some of these videos - they are profoundly shocking," said John Carr, who sits on the executive board of the UK government's Council on Child Internet Safety. "Facebook has taken leave of its senses. Those videos will fuel countless nightmares among the young and the sensitive."

Decapitation videos are available elsewhere on the net but critics have raised concern that Facebook's news feeds and other sharing functions mean it is particularly adept at spreading such material.

French digital rights group La Quadrature du Net said it was still concerned that Facebook was reserving the right to take down the videos if it took issue with the way they were presented. "It plays a profoundly anti-democratic role when it makes any such choice, whatever the limits are and whatever the good reasons it uses to make the decision. Only a judicial authority should be able to restrict fundamental freedoms according to the rule of law."

 

The article was prepared by Alexander Keshelashvili after the BBC article Facebook lets beheading clips return to social network 

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