I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed and came across a very disturbing video of a group of what appeared to be Israeli men, with their hands bound being shot in the head. The caption said something like, ‘Rapists getting what they deserve’. I couldn’t help but feel shocked after seeing this video as firstly it was very graphic and secondly, how was it possible that this video had not yet been removed or destroyed prior to my friend sharing this on her wall?
Facebook is now a multi-billion pound business and a well-used social media site. Almost everyone uses it in some form or another, whether this is via a personal profile or the occasional glance at a friend’s timeline. As a Facebook user myself, I am often unwittingly exposed to many other disturbing links whilst browsing the site in my spare time, hoping to find something interesting or funny to entertain myself.
The internet has a massive influence on society, and I believe that social media sites should be censoring material on a regular basis by permanently deleting offensive, violent or unsettling depictions of any kind. It is very easy to report an image or video such as this – all you have to do is click a button – but there is no guarantee that Facebook will remove it. Recently this occurred with an image of three women with nooses around their necks shown hanging from a tree. After reporting this image, Facebook responded by claiming that the picture was not deemed to be ‘violating their community standards’ and that it would remain on the site.
If this is the case I wonder who feels that an image like this portrays such an important message that the vulgarity of the picture was not enough for it to be deleted. Conversely, an image of a mother breastfeeding her two children was removed for violating the standards set by Facebook. This outraged me, as it seemed as if Facebook’s distorted code of ethics was condoning murder to be shared and viewed by many but shunning a mother feeding her baby. How can the natural act of breastfeeding be considered offensive? I cannot comprehend why an influential site such as Facebook would not evaluate the reporting of an explicit image more carefully. Regardless of the intention of the person posting the material, I do not feel that any social media site should allow the initial uploading of anything of a violent nature or any content that has the propensity to cause emotional harm.
Surely the site should be protecting us from these potential dangers instead of exposing us to them. The world of social media has unbounded potential for information sharing, personal interaction and educational innovation, and as online content grows in diversity and quantity, an increased range of ethical dilemmas will be presented to those responsible for providing the platforms for sharing and interpersonal connection.
We have very limited control over what we come across on the internet, and this will continue to be the case as long as large companies and corporations do not continually review the standards they set for the material being uploaded. What do you think? Should these corporations be doing more? Have your say…