Facebook reinstates iconic photo after uproar

Aftenposten's chief executive officer and editor-in-chief Espen Egil Hansen, with Friday's edition featuring the iconic photo from the Vietnam War. He accused Mr Mark Zuckerberg of threatening the freedom of speech and abusing power after Facebook re
Aftenposten's chief executive officer and editor-in-chief Espen Egil Hansen, with Friday's edition featuring the iconic photo from the Vietnam War. He accused Mr Mark Zuckerberg of threatening the freedom of speech and abusing power after Facebook reportedly deleted the picture from Mr Hansen's news feed.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

NEW YORK • A global backlash over an iconic photograph censored by Facebook, including a high-profile protest by Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg, has prompted the social media giant to reconsider its stance on what constitutes objectionable content.

The Pulitzer-winning image, which was taken by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut on June 8, 1972, shows a naked, nine-year- old girl fleeing napalm bombs during the Vietnam War, tears streaming down her face. It has been used countless times to illustrate the horrors of modern warfare.

However, for Facebook, that image of a young Ms Phan Thi Kim Phuc was one that violated its standards about nudity. So when Norwegian author Tom Egeland posted images about the terror of war with the photo on Facebook, the company removed it and banned him for a day. He protested, and was banned again. In response, thousands more people globally committed an act of virtual civil disobedience by posting the image on their Facebook pages. Ms Solberg posted the image to her own profile and re-published a mock-edited version after it was removed. "Facebook gets it wrong when they censor such images," she wrote in a post.

Hours after the pushback, Facebook reinstated the photo. "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," Facebook said in a statement on Friday. "In this case, we recognise the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time."

Ms Phuc, who is now 53, criticised Facebook's censorship. "Kim is saddened by those who would focus on the nudity in the historic picture rather than the powerful message it conveys," a spokesman for the Kim Phuc Foundation told Norway's Dagsavisen newspaper in a statement.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 11, 2016, with the headline 'Facebook reinstates iconic photo after uproar'. Print Edition | Subscribe