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Articles > Rant June, 23, 2014

Has Facebook gone too far?

Alice Gibbings
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8.00 / 10

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?


Photo By Jannemei

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…

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  1. Kenneth Harvey

    Simple answer. Defriend the people making these posts. They obviously aren’t friends if they disturb you.

  2. charlotte meadows

    Facebook has definitely gone too far! Why have a ‘report’ button if it makes no difference. The video’s and images posted on the social networkimg site recently has been apauling. Videos that consist of violence and discriminating different races and disabilities. These affect me emotionally as I have disabled relatives therefore seeing these videos make me sick. However after reporting the videos, nothing was done about this. Now personally if I was being informed of videos such as this I would remove the content competely. Overall, I believe that some people really dont care what gets put on amd what their opinions are on it. Even if the video uploaded was titled as an awareness of the problem within the video then maybe would come across as an appeal and not just a cruel, vindictive way of using the social network site as a way of uploading there evil thoughts.

  3. karmanya sharma

    This morning, i saw a picture not only distressing but disgraceful also.There were some iraqis with AK-47 in their hand and with a row of innocent men in front of them, without even thinking about the men, they shot them so violently that i left the room that moment. All this depicts only one and one thing i.e the posts getting loose on these social sites. I agree with you on all that you have said and also want the standards set for the material being uploaded by the large companies and corporations to be strict. The posts are actually meant for the knowledge and entertainment of people not for making them sad and on the half naked photograph of females i can only comment that this should not be done and if done should not be on a social website, where all can see it.

  4. Holly Cartlidge

    Definitely on the fence with this, completely agree with the fact that there’s animals being abused etc down my everyday news feed, Facebook should be a positive way of digital communication but I completely understand what a negative effect it has on social norms worldwide, for example with selfie’s and females posting half naked photographs, this isn’t what a social media site is for, its representing females to be weak, vulnerable and worthless, and definitely has a negative effect on other females as they’re known to heavily compare themselves. However these out of bounds posts whether its over the line or not, it’s become our generations norm and the posts you’ve mentioned that are violent and offensive kind of show society a sense of realism, in my eyes Facebook does the new’s job better than a television especially with teenage demographic as we’re all staring down Facebook waaaaay more than watching the news to keep up with worldwide events. This society is fucked either way.

    • Kenneth Harvey

      @ Holly ~ I am kind of confused. In the 1960’s woman needed to be fully clothed, be by their husbands sides and not show off any skin to other men because they were the property of their husband. Woman’s rights movements went into full swing then with a flip of a switch, they were allowed to do everything they weren’t before hand, like, showing off skin. Showing off skin was an empowerment, it was something to be proud of but now choosing to show off your own skin, I mean making the choice to do it your self (hence selfie) is a sign of females being weak, vulnerable and worthless? I am pro choice in everything. Choosing to do something shows strength, running from it shows weakness.

      Degrading some one for doing it like in the case of half naked selfies, feminists do often, is what makes them worthless. Also, is it any different if a male posts a half naked photo of them selves? Many woman would just say “That’s hot” (or not) rather than make a comment about it making them weak, vulnerable and worthless.

  5. molly burtoft

    Facebook has gone too far but were all too hooked on it to leave it (and we all secretly love the drama). Its now just a space to advertise your lives and show off to other people whilst waiting for the hate you will get back for it

  6. Kenneth Harvey

    @ Daniel S.
    One place and one place only, Observation. All you need to do is look at some of the videos that are “Banned in the EU” but ok in the US and vice versa just to get a feel for this. Then there are other obvious factors like how the porn industry still works from the shadows in the US for fear of the pressure from religion (I mean the creation of pornography) while in the UK I have seen adverts on the Jobcenter Website in the past for “Actresses for adult entertainers”.

    There is a youtube channel called Freddiew that I frequent. For those that do not know of it, the guy/team behind it are indie film makers who make a lot of action films. one or two of their videos are unlisted in the UK and Brandon, one of the people who used to make videos with Freddie, actually points this out in one of their videos. Making the same observation I did.

  7. Mckenna Fernandez

    I see so many videos that get shared (maybe hacked or my facebook friends are disgusting) that repulse me. I delete every single one that posts something like this. I got on facebook when I was 12. Now, 5 years later, I cannot say that I haven’t been scarred. Yes, the internet is full of unimaginable horrors. And yes, Facebook has allowed me to keep in close contact with all of my friends from overseas (which is very important to me as an international student). But, Facebook and websites like it need to do a better job screening the things that are posted. We need to flag videos and pictures like the one above. We need to raise flags. And, most of all, the people who post these things on a website that is open to children need to reevaluate their life choices. Yes, I grew up without really having a facade that the world was perfect. Our generation did not. I was in kindergarden when 9/11 happened. One of my earliest memories was the day Saddam Hussein was captured and killed and I watched on tv. I can say that we have grown up with a more realistic impression of our world. But, if I could go back, I would save myself the nightmares.

    I’ve gotten off track. But what I am trying to say is this:
    Over time, children have been exposed to more and more and an earlier age. When I was 5, I wasn’t seeing videos like the one you mentioned every day. The things we grew up with left a pretty cynical mark on us, I would say. With these videos becoming more frequent, I can only imagine how the younger kids will go through. I don’t know how to help.

    – McKenna

    • Daniel S.

      @ Mckenna Fernandez
      As far as I’m concerned, there is an age restriction on Facebook AND YouTube and all 15+ and 18+ videos are banned from YouTube.
      All 12+ videos are subject to age control until the age set on the video corresponds to that of the Google account and trust me, changing your birthday on a Google account isn’t a simple thing.
      The problem here is that all videos aren’t hosted by YouTube and some are hosted by “less legal” companies.
      I don’t see Facebook banning all but Google’s video player though so it’ll probably stay this way.

      @ Alice Gibbings
      What I find particularly ironic here is that you are here debating on whether or not Facebook should be stricter or whatnot when the usage of Facebook is not a necessity or an obligation. If you don’t like what you see on Facebook, don’t use Facebook. I personally only spend less than five minutes a day on it and I’m doing fine without. Too many people are now addicted to it as if it was something essential. It isn’t. Also, I think that frankly, I don’t really care about what I see on Facebook. I mean if you see some strange feed here and there, I’m guessing you added some people who aren’t really your friends on Facebook.
      Therefore, the question should in fact be: Should I add people I’ve only seen once on Facebook? and my answer is no. Though I know that everyone has his opinion on that, the fact remains that meeting a person once or twice is not enough to call that person a friend and allow him to see what you are doing all the time (for those of you who spend quite some time on Facebook).
      Anyway, my problem with Facebook isn’t the lack of a feed filter but the clear breach of my privacy. Did you know that if you have the latest version of Facebook on your phone, Facebook can read and send text messages without you even knowing it?
      I don’t care what kind of bullshit they gave as an excuse for this but I don’t understand how some people live with it.

      @Lewis Walker + Yahsin Raman
      Entirely agree

      @Daniel Evans
      If you have 900+ friends on Facebook, I don’t really think your opinion counts on this matter.

      @Kenneth Harvey
      /quote: “in the UK porn and nude images are more acceptable in comparison to violent imagery while in America the complete opposite is true. They are more accepting of violence than sex” /quote end
      Where did you get that from?

      *After reading most of the other comments*
      To all those who talk about breast feeding or Shooting or whatnot and whether or not it should be banned, I say that Facebook:
      1: will probably not be influenced by what you are saying here.
      2: It isn’t Facebook’s job to ban videos or photos. It’s your job to know who your friends are and I think that when you have more than 200 friends on Facebook you’ll know what I mean when I ask you to tell me where you met each and every single person or if you actually even know who they are.
      If you haven’t met them, don’t befriend them on Facebook, at least not with your real life account.
      If you’re stupid enough to have more than 400 friends on Facebook or you really don’t know who is the first person on your friend list and complain about content filtering, please just shut up.

  8. Olivia Kingsbury

    I don’t think it’s possible to control everything that filters through Facebook. Some things slide past the firewalls and administrators and find our way onto our news feeds, which can sometimes lead to chaos. Even as big of a corp. as Facebook is it’s unrealistic to expect every little offensive thing to be taken off of our news feed because the internet holds a vast expanse of offensive things. Instead of changing Facebook we need to become more cognizant of our lack of ability to control these things and accept Facebook for what it is

  9. cynthiya

    I must agree this article does raise some really good points which I had not thought of before. But, to be honest, when I login into facebook, these issues do not occur to me at all. Most of us just get on facebook to stay updated with friends and also because facebook makes organizing evens so easy.

  10. Lewis Walker

    The fact that you think a video posted on the internet can be “destroyed”, shows a slight naïvety.
    I hate this idea that somehow it’s Facebook’s responsibility to protect it’s users feelings. Especially when it’s content shared by users that you have agreed to be friends with. If you are unhappy with what someone posts, unfriend them. That’s your responsibility as a mature adult. Look after your own feelings.

    I don’t think they should remove any content. I’m appalled they took a video of a mother breast feeding her child off of their site. It’s not their business to do so.

    Facebook provide us with a platform to share content we want others to see, it should not police the content.

  11. Yasin Rahman

    What I think is basically if you have people who you have made friends with who are into all thats stuff then off course your going to see it.

  12. John Wadeson

    Makes me laugh how things like that dont get removed but they removed some of thr “cock in a sock” pics which helped raise money for charity. Its not even like its personal choice if you watch videos anymore as thehy automatically start to play

  13. Daniel Evans

    To be 100% honest I don’t mind what I see on my Facebook news feed, it doesn’t really effect me, however, just because it doesn’t bother me means that I want to see it. I have over 900 friends on Facebook but really I only want to see what is happening in 20 of my friends lives, without all of the stupid vines and videos. I think there should be a lot more filtration put in place for what is visible on Facebook but there should also be more user-based customization available.

  14. Kenneth Harvey

    Something else to take into consideration is that in the UK porn and nude images are more acceptable in comparison to violent imagery while in America the complete opposite is true. They are more accepting of violence than sex. I have no idea why but *shrugs*

    How ever. Facebook is an American company so.

  15. Maximillion

    Good article and I totally agree, but some tips…
    1. If you’re “hoping to find something interesting or funny to entertain” yourself, PLEASE don’t go on Facebook. You’re much more likely to find something that depresses or traumatises you. I’ve found social media is much more tolerable when you use it exclusively to keep in touch with people. Even other peoples’ opinions on their status can piss me off.
    2. You can hide and unfollow people/feeds and even individual posts you find annoying or disturbing.

    Also I agree with the person who said that just because breastfeeding is natural and normal, it doesn’t mean everyone wants to see it.

    And execution or “snuff” videos might not be illegal on the internet (you can find some grotesque sites featuring many of them) but they definitely should not be on fb.

    • Alice Daisy Gibbings

      I completely agree, and also can understand why perhaps some people don’t want to see images of breastfeeding on the internet, but I think the fact that an image such as a mother breastfeeding her baby is reported and removed is wrong when there’s more damaging material circulating around the internet via social media. I think social media should set standards and stick to them! There is no way in my mind that breastfeeding can really be compared to an individual being shot.

  16. Laura

    I don’t think graphic, violent images of execution can be compared to breastfeeding.
    Basically it should come down to:
    – Is the image graphic/disturbing/violent?
    – Is there any nudity or inappropriate behaviour in the photograph?

    Facebook SHOULD censor violent, graphic images of hanging. Facebook should also censor inappropriate nudity. If the breast cannot be fully seen on the picture of breastfeeding, then it should be allowed.
    I have no idea why you’d want to share such an intimate moment as breastfeeding your child with the world, to me it’s like photographing yourself on the toilet – both are practical, natural processes, but only one is considered “beautiful”, but each to their own – there should be a clear set of guidelines that are sensibly followed.

  17. Kenneth Harvey

    Unfortunately censorship is a massively murky puddle to go wading into. i.e.

    The graphic image of three woman being hanged vs a grotesque image of three actresses being hanged.

    On is terrible and disrespectful and should be removed while the other is art of some degree. Should they both be removed? Even though the latter is protected by the law?

    A shining example of this would be a case about 10 years back (Before it was made illegal about 3 years ago) where owning images of child pornography was illegal but owning lolita (french photography art) and Lolicon (japanese cartoon child porn) was not due to the fact that one was harmful to children while the other was not.

    Also something to think about is that in the eyes of the law in nearly every country, there is a massive difference between execution and murder?
    A) I dont know if either of those images were murder or execution. Image titles may have been changed to suit the posters need.

    B) I do not believe such a distinction should exist my self, needless death is needless death and I dislike the “eye for an eye” thing, but there is a widely accepted distinction. So if they are receiving capital punishment for a crime, then that is what it is. A punishment.

    Also I doubt it was execution for rape. In the countries this style of execution happen, it is generally seen as the womans responsibility not to be raped, not the mans responsibility not to rape. though this is speculation. I do not know what racial group/country they were from.


  18. Suzanne Sunfield

    Brilliant, informative, well researched article. It raised issues and questions for me to consider. A very well written article in which issues are clearly explained and expressed. .