The editor of a Norwegian newspaper has written an open letter to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg after Facebook removed a famous documentary photograph from the newspaper’s Facebook page.
The photo in question comes from the Vietnam War and shows a young girl, naked, running in terror from a bombing. It’s horrifying and disturbing and was a key to ending US involvement in that war. Facebook called it child pornography.
The newspaper editor says that Facebook’s standards, written in a California conference room, should not be applied in a blanket way to a global audience.
On the one hand, I can see that there is content that I would find highly objectionable that others would defend posting on the same grounds of diverse opinion and free speech.
On the other hand, I am afraid that a global communications platform used by more than one-seventh of the world’s population (and growing) unilaterally decides what is appropriate and what is not.
Whether it’s deciding that clergy and religious cannot be identified by their titles or declaring certain sensitive topics out of bounds, Facebook as a corporation has too much power.
We used to worry that Google’s control over search results could be used to manipulate the public (and still do). We should worry that Facebook’s censorship could be used to do the same thing.