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Facebook just deleted a post by the Norwegian Prime Minister because of this photo

napalm.jpg

You've almost certainly seen the photograph known commonly as 'Napal Girl'.

Taken by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut at the height of the Vietnamese war, it depicts nine-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc fleeing a US military napalm strike. She is naked, near skeletal in stature, and crying. It is an immensely powerful image, capturing the brutality of war and its savage effects on innocent civilians.

It was recently included in an article on iconic war imagery by Norwegian news paper Aftenposten - however, despite its cultural impact, when the article and image were posted onto the newspaper's Facebook page, they were contacted by the social network with a request to either censor or remove the image. Before Aftenposten responded, Facebook deleted the post, going so far as to prevent its author Tom Egeland from being able to post from his account.

In the days following Facebook's decision to delete the post, a number of prominent Norwegian figures, including the Prime Minister Erna Solberg, posted the article only to have it deleted by Facebook. Solberg, who had stated "I say no to this form of censorship", has subsequently called on Facebook to "review its editing policy". 

Erna Solberg

Facebook doesn't refute the importance of the 'Napalm girl' photo, but has outlined in a statement the difficult position it believes it is in regarding images of nudity.

"While we recognise that this photo is iconic, it's difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others," Facebook said in a statement.

"We try to find the right balance between enabling people to express themselves while maintaining a safe and respectful experience for our global community. Our solutions won't always be perfect, but we will continue to try to improve our policies and the ways in which we apply them."

Editor of Espen Egil Hansen newspaper Aftenposten has written an open letter in response to Facebook's actions, addressing Mark Zuckerberg directly.

"Listen, Mark," writes Hansen, "this is serious. First you create rules that don’t distinguish between child pornography and famous war photographs. Then you practice these rules without allowing space for good judgement. Finally you even censor criticism against and a discussion about the decision – and you punish the person who dares to voice criticism."

How much control over posts do you think Facebook should have? Should it be able to make exceptions in certain contexts, or should it remain absolute on subjects such as images of naked children. Let us know your thoughts below.

(Images: "Napalm Girl" by Nick Ut / The Associated Press, Erna Solberg from Rex)

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