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August 5, 2021

Facebook should adopt editorial standards: Press Council

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'Napalm Girl', the image that is credited with changing public opinion on the Vietnam War was last week banned from Facebook, prompting an outraged response.
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Social media behemoth Facebook was widely criticised last week over its attempt to censor the iconic ‘Napalm Girl’ war photograph.

The photo  has been widely published since 1972 and is often referred to as ‘the photo that helped end the Vietnam War’. While Facebook later reinstated the photo onto its feeds, the Australian Press Council (APC) issued a statement saying the issue ‘shines a spotlight on the growing power of Facebook to shape the world’s news agenda without an adequate and clearly stated editorial policy.’

APC chair Professor David Weisbrot AM said, ‘Far too many people have fought for free speech and press freedom to have it threatened because a major news distribution platform like Facebook adopts unthinking, one-size-fits-all standards that censor images and information the world needs to see.’

Professor Weisbrot urged the multi-billion-dollar US corporation to review urgently the way it aggregates and disseminates the world’s news and to make public the editorial policy, ‘if there is one.’

Clumsy

‘Facebook must also address the clumsy and ineffective way in which its moderators and computer algorithms make crucial editorial decisions on behalf of Facebook’s users.

‘Any attempt to impose universal, but lowest-common-denominator, rules that ignore context and cultural differences or operate to censor newsworthy images and information, must be avoided.’

n In July, Forbes reported that founder Zuckerberg’s net worth is $56.7 billion, making him the world’s fifth-richest person.

n The Echo is a member of the Australian Press Council.


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