Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

Facebook forced to back down over Vietnam photo

September 9, 2016

My previous post was about the inane censorship applied by Facebook about Nick Ut’s iconic photograph of a naked girl fleeing after a Napalm strike.

It has taken almost a day for Facebook to see some sense – though it has only come after a massive wave of negative publicity to get them to do so. But their pronouncements suggest they still don’t understand that they are, in fact, a publisher whenever they censor or even prioritise certain content over others. They are a publisher first, a purveyor of advertisements second  and only a technology company as a distant third. Merely repeating their mantra of being a technology company does not change reality.

My previous post fed onto my Facebook page about 16 hours ago. However it does not seem that Facebook tampered with that feed in any way.



Facebook says it will allow an iconic photograph of a girl fleeing a Napalm attack taken during the Vietnam war in 1972 to be used on its platform. It had previously removed the image, posted by a Norwegian writer, on the grounds that it contained nudity.

The move sparked a debate about Facebook’s role as an editor. The editor of Norway’s largest newspaper had written an open letter to Facebook’s chief Mark Zuckerberg calling the move “an abuse of power”. The tech giant said it had “listened to the community” following a considerable amount of criticism about its decision to block the photo. …..


Facebook editors display their ignorance and “promote stupidity”

September 9, 2016

Probably the Facebook editors involved are just ignorant. Blaming the algorithm for their own shortcomings is rather pathetic.

This story in the Guardian about Facebook censoring this iconic Vietnam photograph:


photo Nick Ut /AP

The Guardian:

Norway’s largest newspaper has published a front-page open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, lambasting the company’s decision to censor a historic photograph of the Vietnam war and calling on Zuckerberg to recognize and live up to his role as “the world’s most powerful editor”.

Espen Egil Hansen, the editor-in-chief and CEO of Aftenposten, accused Zuckerberg of thoughtlessly “abusing your power” over the social media site that has become a lynchpin of the distribution of news and information around the world, writing, “I am upset, disappointed – well, in fact even afraid – of what you are about to do to a mainstay of our democratic society.”

…… The controversy stems from Facebook’s decision to delete a post by Norwegian writer Tom Egeland that featured The Terror of War, a Pulitzer prize-winning photograph by Nick Ut that showed children – including the naked 9-year-old Kim Phúc – running away from a napalm attack during the Vietnam war. Egeland’s post discussed “seven photographs that changed the history of warfare” – a group to which the “napalm girl” image certainly belongs.

Egeland was subsequently suspended from Facebook. When Aftenposten reported on the suspension – using the same photograph in its article, which was then shared on the publication’s Facebook page – the newspaper received a message from Facebook asking it to “either remove or pixelize” the photograph. ……. 

Before Aftenposten could respond, Hansen writes, Facebook deleted the article and image from the newspaper’s Facebook page.

In his open letter, Hansen points out that Facebook’s decision to delete the photograph reveals a troubling inability to “distinguish between child pornography and famous war photographs”, as well as an unwillingness to “allow[ing] space for good judgement”.

“Even though I am editor-in-chief of Norway’s largest newspaper, I have to realize that you are restricting my room for exercising my editorial responsibility,” he wrote. “I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly.”

Hansen goes on to argue that rather than fulfill its mission statement to “make the world more open and connected”, such editorial decisions “will simply promote stupidity and fail to bring human beings closer to each other”.

Facebook is a publisher whether it wants to admit it or not. Just the act of censorship makes it a publisher. The world may well be dumbing down since the time of hunter-gatherers. And Facebook probably contributes to accelerating the glorification of stupidity.



Arrogant and overbearing political correctness censures Tintin from Stockholm library

September 25, 2012

See update below:

I have little patience with the “do-gooders” who always know best what is good for others. But impatience turns to an active dislike when an arrogant young man (a certain Behrang Meri) presumes that his world-view shall prevail and takes it upon himself to be a censor by removing all copies of Tintin from the shelves of the 10-13 year old library of Stockholm’s Culture Centre. Of course he claims he is doing this “for their own good”. Arrogance and coercion are the stock-in-trade of the “do-gooders” and is wide-spread in Sweden. Banning things for the “good of others” is the order of the day. Some of the coercive tactics employed – even if now coming from the left of the political spectrum – are indistinguishable from those employed by the fascists in Europe almost 100 years ago.

Dagens Nyheter reports (my free translation):

Tintin has been ejected from the Culture Centre in Stockholm. DN can report that the beloved cartoon character has been cleaned out from the library shelves. Now the staff have been instructed to look for any more books which have racist or homophobic values.

The 10-13 year old library of Stockholm’s Culture Centre has  removed Tintin books from the shelves. In consultation with their staff, the artistic director with responsibility for children and activities for the young made ​​the decision.

“That’s right. The picture Tintin books give for example of Africans is afrofobisk. Africans are shown to be a bit silly while Arabs are sitting on flying carpets and Turks smoke water pipes. The image of  the “forest Turk” is still there. It’s about exoticism and Orientalism”, says Behrang Miri, who leads efforts to develop Child and Youth Culture activities in the sections for children, “Tiotretton” and “Lava”. ……. 

Behrang Meri, the self-appointed censor in this case, was appointed to his position in February this year.

He was on the radio this morning and tried to babble his way through by insisting that he was removing the books so that children could actually go deeper into the questions of racism!!  He seemed to be avoiding all questions and merely spouting a practised defence. I would have thought that deepening children’s understanding would only be possible by exposure to the books and not by his over-bearing, over-protectiveness denying exposure to the books. In any case the Tintin serials – which I greatly enjoyed through my childhood – were written in a colonial time and had no racist intentions. It depicted the world-view that existed at the time. Censorship will not change history or cause those times to disappear.

He failed to impress and I cannot help feeling that his ego has got the better of him and his objective is mere self-promotion rather than the cultural enrichment of 10-13 year old children.


Following a storm of media criticism, officials at the Kulturhuset library in Stockholm have reversed their decision to remove Tintin comic books from its shelves, saying the move happened “too fast”.

I note that it was the head of the Culture Centre who reversed the censorship and Bahrang Meri has accepted being overruled. In spite of his vehement defence of his decision on the radio this morning this was clearly not a resigning issue. Some damage control is ongoing but damage there certainly is:

“I wanted to highlight an opinion piece about issues of discrimination, but realize now that it’s wrong to ban books,” Meri said in a statement. However, Kulturhuset head Sjöström applauded Meri for prompting a discussion about discrimination. 
“The issues of discrimination, equality and norms continue to be debated and discussed,” Sjöström said in a statement.

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