Facebook censors historic “Napalm Girl” photo

Facebook has recently come under some scrutiny regarding its censorship.  Norwegian author Tom Egeland published on Facebook last month a post about the history of warfare that included a famous photo of a young Vietnamese girl fleeing from napalm gas during the Vietnam War.

The controversy that arose over this photo is that the girl is completely naked, which violates Facebook’s standards about nudity.  The girl, named Phan Thi Kim Phuc, was running away after being burned by South Vietnamese forces spraying napalm. Egeland and Espen Egil Hansen, editor in chief of the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, assert that the picture holds historic significance as it shows the atrocities of war, and therefore should be an exception to Facebook’s policy.  It even won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972.

In recent months, people have increasingly been commenting on the important role that Facebook plays in the media.  Responding to these comments, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that Facebook is first and foremost a tech company rather than a media company.  This statement has aggravated some who think that Facebook holds the most power to influence the public’s media interest compared to other companies who actually identify as media companies.

Should Facebook be able to censor whatever they want simply because they technically don’t call themselves a “media” company? Should a company that has so much power over consumers be able to set limits on the types of journalism its users can see?

 

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10 thoughts on “Facebook censors historic “Napalm Girl” photo

  1. Rachael

    Since Facebook is primarily a social networking site and not a online news outlet for journalistic articles and photographs I do think they have the right to censor whatever they decide is inappropriate for their users. Just because Facebook has a great amount of influence and readership doesn’t mean that they are responsible for publishing and distributing the news. I understand users might be upset at Facebook for unnecessary censorship but if its users want to see journalistic style articles and photographs maybe they should get off Facebook and go to a real news site.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. melissaadams101 Post author

      That’s a good point, Rachael. Facebook isn’t in the business of journalism; it is on the business of social media. If people were really interested in professional news articles, they should go to a news website. However, I think most people either don’t have time or are just too lazy to go to other sites and rely entirely on what pops up on their homepage. Facebook doesn’t have a real obligation to provide good journalism to their users, but I think people would be much more informed if they did.

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  2. juliamcintyresite

    This is an interesting article because it shows both sides of the argument. It shows how censorship is an important thing to Facebook, but it also shows that some items deserve to not be censored because they show important things that need to be seen to everyone. This is a great example of one because it shows that the world has violent places with children dying (which is important to be aware of), but it also shows the little girl naked, which can bother a lot of people.

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    1. melissaadams101 Post author

      Exactly. Censorship is definitely necessary in order not to corrupt the minds of children, but some content, I think, should be an exception to the rule. This a photo, and other historically relevant ones, should be an exception.

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  3. katiegallaghersite

    Wow, what a great article. It really raises an interesting point about censorship and social media. I personally believe that it is a part of history that cannot be ignored or censored. People need to stop ignoring stuff like this and just acknowledge that it can’t be erased.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. melissaadams101 Post author

      I totally agree, Katie! Historical content like this photo cannot be ignored just because it may make people uncomfortable. We need to learn about history so we as a human race don’t make the same mistakes in the future.

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  4. brandonwoodweb

    Great piece, I think Facebook should leave the picture alone and not censor it. I’m all for keeping certain sites clean due to the ages of the audience that uses the site but when it comes to a photo with a powerful message behind it I think it should be shown in its entirety. The “Napalm Girl” photo shows the disheartening truth behind the Vietnamese War that is important to our country’s history.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. David Steadman

    I feel as though in censoring the photo, Facebook is missing the point. The photo, although disturbing to some people, does hold a powerful historical significance. It’s not intentionally illicit material. I feel that facebook and the internet in general is a completely different medium than television or radio, and therefore should not be regulated as such.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. melissaadams101 Post author

      You’re right, Facebook is completely different from TV and radio and has it’s own rules for censorship. Historically significant media should never be censored in the same way that other media is.

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