There are, currently, 260 billion photographs on Facebook. It is too difficult for Facebook to ensure that the photographs uploaded to their website are always acceptable. People should be aware of this. When a 13-year-old signs up to Facebook, as she is able to do without parental consent, is she aware of what she’s getting herself into?
Two stories highlight the problem. You may remember the iconic Pulitzer prize-winning war photo of a naked girl running away from a napalm attack during the Vietnam war (taken by Nick Ut). It was uploaded to Facebook but blocked and taken down. It must’ve been in breach of their opaque regulations. This is all the more bizarre because they now use software which can recognise the sort of photograph that is being uploaded. Apparently Facebook states that “crushed heads, limbs et cetera are okay as long as no insides are showing”. But, the photograph of a naked child running away from a napalm attack during the Vietnam war is an absolute no-no even if it does sum up the entire madness of that war. I presume she was naked because her clothes had been ripped from her as they were on fire from the sticky napalm.
Eventually this iconic photograph was reuploaded by the Norwegian Prime Minister in protest whereupon it was pulled once again from her Facebook page. Norway owns a sizeable chunk of Facebook equity so when she complained Facebook backed down and allowed her to publish the photograph on her Facebook page. But it took that kind of leverage.
Another story illustrates the other side of the coin. In this instance a photograph of an un-clothed Northern Irish girl was published on a so-called “shame page”. Facebook did not take the photograph down illustrating the absurd anomaly of their rules and regulations. Subsequently a Belfast judge stated that Facebook had a case to answer for not acting more rigorously after the girl’s parents had repeatedly asked the site to remove the image without success.
Apparently the girl had been blackmailed into handing over the picture. The girl’s lawyers are seeking compensation on her behalf. She is claiming damages for misuse of private information, negligence and beaches of the Data Protection Act. The girl is represented by a leading human rights lawyer and QC, Edward Fitzgerald, paid by the taxpayer under legal aid.
Facebook are in a bit of a pickle and as stated in the opening paragraph they are unable, because of the gargantuan scale of their website, to fully control uploaded photographs.
I’m told that they do have human moderators to check photographs but the work is outsourced to countries such as Morocco, the Philippines and Mexico where moderators are paid little more than one dollar an hour.
One moderator stated that it was not much money for the sort of work he does which he described as: “all the mess/dirt/weight/shit of the world flows towards you and you have to clean it.”
Facebook promotes the idea that they are a community but as we all know they are a very big business which made $18 billion in revenue last year. The decision-making process regarding images on their site is based upon financial profit rather than ethical principles.
My thanks to Dominic Lawson for analyising the FB image problem which bugs many people.
The reason why I have posted this page is because on a number of occasions to my knowledge, Facebook have refused to delete animal cruelty images or have been inordinately slow in acting. In addition some nasty people promote cat abuse on FB without censor.