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19th Aug 2017

Focus

Facebook censors Norway's PM

  • Zuckerberg: The world's most powerful editor? (Photo: Maurizio Pesce)

Facebook has deleted a post by the Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, in a row over the social media giant's decision to earlier emove an iconic photograph from the Vietnam war featuring a naked girl fleeing bombs.

Sloberg, while commending Facebook's effort to stop violent or abusive content, voiced support in a post for Norway's largest newspaper, Aftenposten after its editor-in-chief criticised Facebook for removing the Pulitzer-prize winning photograph from one of its posts.

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  • Aftenposten printed the photo on its frontpage after Facebook took it down

The newspaper published a series of photographs that "changed the history of warfare". The 1972 picture by Nick Ut features nine-year old Kim Phuc running away, naked, from napalm bombs. Facebook asked the newspaper to remove or "pixelise" it because of her nudity.

The newspaper refused and Facebook took down the post. The newspaper then put the photograph on its front page on Friday (9 September), next to a Facebook logo.

Aftenposten's editor-in-chief Espen Egil Hansen wrote on open letter to Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, accusing the firm of censorship.

While acknowledging Facebook's role in amplifying the newspaper's voice, Hansen wrote: "I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly."

"I have to realise that you are restricting my room for exercising my editorial responsibility. This is what you and your subordinates are doing in this case," he added in the open letter, calling Zuckerberg the world's most powerful editor.

PM Solberg was one of the Norwegian politicians who shared the iconic image.

“Facebook gets it wrong when they censor such images,” she wrote in her post, which also included the picture. “I say no to this type of censorship.”

"I want my children and other children to grow up in a society where history is taught as it was. Where they can learn from historical events and mistakes," Solberg wrote.

A few hours later the post on her profile was taken down. Later, the prime minister urged Facebook to review its editing policy.

“While we recognise that this photo is iconic, it is difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others,” Facebook said in a statement.

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