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Facebook responds to beheading video outcry

Networking site says working on new ways to alerting users of gruesome content after outcry against beheading videos.

Last Modified: 22 Oct 2013 17:41
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Facebook had introduced a temporary ban on videos of beheadings following complaints [AFP]

Facebook has announced that it was working on new ways to keep users from stumbling across gruesome content on its website following an outcry over the discovery of beheading videos there.

The controversy, which has drawn critical comment from British Prime Minister David Cameron, illustrates the difficulty of setting a universal standard across the social network used by one billion people.

Facing sharp criticism, Facebook Inc issued a statement clarifying that violent videos were only allowed if they were presented as news or held up as atrocities to be condemned.

"If they were being celebrated, or the actions in them encouraged, our approach would be different," the company said in a statement.

"However, since some people object to graphic video of this nature, we are working to give people additional control over the content they see. This may include warning them in advance that the image they are about to see contains graphic content.''

'Irresponsible'

British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier condemned Facebook as "irresponsible" after the social networking site
lifted its ban on users posting videos of beheadings.

Cameron said on Tuesday that "worried parents" needed to hear an explanation from the US-based website.

"It's irresponsible of Facebook to post beheading videos, especially without a warning," the prime minister said on his Twitter page.

"They must explain their actions to worried parents."

Facebook had introduced a temporary ban on videos of beheadings in May following complaints that the graphic footage could cause users long-term psychological harm.

But it confirmed on Monday that it had reversed the decision on the grounds that the site is used to share information about world events, including "terrorist" attacks and human rights abuses.

More than one billion people around the globe use Facebook every month, according to the website, which was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and four fellow students at Harvard University.

Facebook's administrators face constant pressure from interest groups trying to impose their own forms of censorship.

Some people have urged the site ban controversial content, while others decry what they claim is censorship by the social media website. 

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