Facebook to allow more 'newsworthy' posts to pass censorship after 'napalm girl' furore

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Facebook has said it will begin allowing more items that are “newsworthy, significant or important to the public interest” to show up on a user’s News Feed uncensored.

The move comes after it was criticised for deleting the famous 1972 “napalm girl” photograph from the Vietnam War because it contained nudity and so breached the platform’s community standards.

Facebook’s chief operating officer was forced to apologise and conceded “we don’t always get it right” after complaints it was censoring matters of historical importance and free speech.

In a recent blog post, the company said: “Observing global standards for our community is complex.

“Whether an image is newsworthy or historically significant is highly subjective. Images of nudity or violence that are acceptable in one part of the world may be offensive — or even illegal — in another.

“Respecting local norms and upholding global practices often come into conflict. And people often disagree about what standards should be in place to ensure a community that is both safe and open to expression.

“In the weeks ahead, we’re going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest — even if they might otherwise violate our standards.

“We will work with our community and partners to explore exactly how to do this, both through new tools and approaches to enforcement.

“Our intent is to allow more images and stories without posing safety risks or showing graphic images to minors and others who do not want to see them.”

Facebook has come under further fire in recent months after it sacked up to 18 staff working on its Trending feature, handing decisions about breaking news content over to a computer.

The changes mean “trending” topics no longer feature a description written by a person, but simply a keyword identified by a computer.

Shortly after the change the social media giant faced claims the network had begun promoting bogus stories.

It followed further changes in July which saw Facebook give posts from friends greater prominence than posts from news publishers.

In August Facebook declared war on clickbait by identifying commonly used headline ploys and pushing these posts down the rankings in a user’s News Feed.

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