Facebook reverses move to censor 'napalm girl' photo

Facebook reverses move to censor 'napalm girl' photo

Aftenposten's editor-in-chief and CEO Espen Egil Hansen poses with Aftenposten featuring the iconic picture from the Vietnam war on Friday. (EPA photo)
Aftenposten's editor-in-chief and CEO Espen Egil Hansen poses with Aftenposten featuring the iconic picture from the Vietnam war on Friday. (EPA photo)

SAN FRANCISCO - Facebook on Friday reversed its decision to censor an iconic Vietnam War photo of a naked girl escaping a napalm bombing, after the move set off a wave of outrage, including from Norway's prime minister.

"Because of its status as an iconic image of historical importance, the value of permitting sharing outweighs the value of protecting the community by removal, so we have decided to reinstate the image on Facebook where we are aware it has been removed," a spokesperson for the world's largest social network said in an email to AFP.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg earlier on Friday posted the photograph, which the US social network says violates its nudity rules.

Taken by photographer Nick Ut Cong Huynh for the Associated Press, the 1972 picture of a naked Vietnamese girl running from a napalm attack is considered one of the war's defining images. It was honored with the Pulitzer Prize.

Solberg's post was taken down several hours later, deleted by Facebook, she said. She said Facebook was seeking "to edit our common history."

The affair began several weeks ago after Norwegian author Tom Egeland published a post about war photos, illustrated by the picture. Facebook promptly deleted it.

Norwegians rose to his defense by publishing the photo, posts that Facebook also deleted in line with its rules barring nudity.

In its latest statement, Facebook said it had reversed course "after hearing from our community," and examining how its "Community Standards" were applied.

"An image of a naked child would normally be presumed to violate our Community Standards, and in some countries might even qualify as child pornography."

But Facebook said it was allowing the picture to be posted on the world's largest social network and will "adjust our review mechanisms to permit sharing of the image going forward."

"It will take some time to adjust these systems but the photo should be available for sharing in the coming days," the statement added.

"We are always looking to improve our policies to make sure they both promote free expression and keep our community safe."

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