On the 9th September 2016 Facebook banned/ took down an
image of the Napalm Girl that was
uploaded, citing that it was in violation of its ‘community guidelines’. The
photograph was upload by a Norwegian newspaper editor who posted it as part of
a series on war photography. However, when trying to repost it, along with a response
from the napalm girl herself, his account was suspended by Facebook (Ingram,
2016). However, because of the public
outcry the image was reinstated on Facebook.
There was a similar incident and outcry, surround
of woman breast feeding. The images classed as a breach of Facebooks community guidelines,
leading to the images being banned under its nudity clause (Ibrahim,Y 2010). Ibrahim (2010) argues that Facebook imposed a
sexual reading on the nipple rather detecting it as images of acts of nurture,
natural an innocent activity.
The nudity in both incidences was classified through the
‘community standards’ as pornography. The issue that comes forth from this is
the context of the image being disregarded. Highlighting the complexity and
ethical challenges in monitoring complex images on social media. As images shifted through “technological ‘intelligence’
i.e., algorithms, human censors” (Ibrahim, Y. 2017). Which
in most incidences would not be able to determine the right and wrong type of
nudity, as lines are blurred between appropriate and inappropriate depending on
its context which may be hard for technology to detect. Facebook maintained
that “An image of a naked child would normally be presumed to violate our
community standards, and in some countries, might even qualify as child
pornography” (Havland & Seetharaman, 2016). The ethical challenge, in the
instence of the Napalm girl, the image is showing the realities of the world,
that just happens to involve nudity. The importance of the context, needs to be
Ibrahim, Y. (2017) proclaims the image showcases a
moment of collective failure of humanity and a call to conscience. Therefore, disrespectful
that the image was classified as pornography by Facebooks community guidelines.
Ibrahim, Y (2017) also puts forth the
view, that by Facebook taking down the image, they are there for imposing their
own morality code, an act of cultural colonialism, by recoding the image as
just another naked body, stripping away the context of the image, “desecrating
its reverential value and mythic status” (Ibrahim, Y. 2017). Ibrahim (2017), in
the journal article does not show any sympathy for Facebook in regards t0 the
complexity and limitations of technology in regulating images.
As a result of the high-profile incidentces, in 2015 Facebook
implemented new community standards to provide clarification on objectionable
content. Saying that they will “remove graphic images when they are shared for
sadistic pleasure or to celebrate or glorify violence” (NBC. 2015).