Facebook 'napalm girl' row mounts as Norway PM posts picture

Vietnam War photographer Nick Ut speaks with media next to his iconic "Napalm Girl" photograph during a press event.
KHAM

Vietnam War photographer Nick Ut speaks with media next to his iconic "Napalm Girl" photograph during a press event.

A furious Norwegian newspaper has taken Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to task for "abusing his power" as the world's most powerful editor, after the social media company demanded censorship of the famous Vietnam war 'napalm girl' photograph.

Espen Egil Hansen, editor-in-chief of the Aftenposten, the country's biggest newspaper, has published a long tirade against Zuckerberg after receiving an email from Facebook saying the image contravened the site's rules on nudity.

Facebook had also suspended Norwegian author and journalist Tom Egeland after he shared the image on Facebook several weeks ago as part of a story on seven photographs that changed the history of warfare.

Aftenposten's editor-in-chief, Espen Egil Hansen.
AFTENPOSTEN

Aftenposten's editor-in-chief, Espen Egil Hansen.

Aftenposten reported on that suspension and used the same photograph in its article, which it then shared on the newspaper's Facebook page.

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But Facebook sent Aftenposten an email asking them to "remove or pixelise" the photograph.

Facebook's policy on nudity.

Facebook's policy on nudity.

"We place limitations on the display of nudity to limit the exposure of the different people using our platform to sensitive content," Facebook's letter said, adding that it allowed some exceptions for "content posted for educational, humorous or satirical purposes".

Less than 24 hours after sending the email, Facebook unilaterally deleted the article, and the image, from Aftenposten's Facebook page.

Facebook also reportedly censored Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg after she posted the photograph on her own Facebook page in solidarity with the Aftenposten.

Solberg posted the picture on Friday morning but it was taken down just three hours later, Bloomberg reported.

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The Terror of War, a photograph by Nick Ut showing nine-year-old Kim Phuc fleeing a napalm attack, won a Pulitzer prize and is considered one of history's most powerful war journalism images.

"Listen, Mark, this is serious," Mr Hansen wrote. "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."

Zuckerberg has denied that Facebook is a media company.

However Hansen said that Zuckerberg was "the world's most powerful editor" as Facebook was "offering us a great channel for distributing our content".

"You are restricting my room for exercising my editorial responsibility," Hansen wrote.

"I think you are abusing your power and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly."

Free and independent media must sometimes publish unpleasant images, he said.

"If liberty means anything at all, British George Orwell wrote in the preface to Animal Farm, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

"Editors cannot live with you, Mark, as a master editor."

 - Sydney Morning Herald

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