Facebook Censorship: Aaron Swartz's Prediction Comes True As Facebook Censors Video

The BBC reports that Facebook will be removing videos of decapitations in Mexico that were uploaded to the network last week in a reversal from their original decision to let them remain. Months before his suicide, Aaron Swartz had warned of exactly this kind of censorship from corporations that have no "constitution to answer to." 

Facebook originally ruled the videos to be allowed on the site, saying in its statement that the videos did not violate its Community Standards on graphic violence. The official statement even prescribed the videos as akin to news segments that "often show upsetting images of atrocities, people can share upsetting videos on Facebook to raise awareness of actions or causes." 

Facebook only reversed its decision after a member of Facebook safety advisory board publicly condemned the video and Facebook for allowing the videos to remain on the site. Stephen Balkam, the chief executive of one Facebook advisory board member Family Online Safety Institute, described the video as having no public interest and damaging for young users.

Aaron Swartz, who was a champion of a completely free internet, had described this type of censorship in a video months before his suicide. Facebook could be more vigilant about disallowing graphic and violent images on the newsfeeds of underage or young users but it should not interfere with, in its own words, "people's rights to describe, depict and comment on the world in which we live."

Did Facebook go too far in reversing its decision? Tell me what you think in the comments below or on Twitter @shwetika.

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Shwetika Baijal

Shwetika is PolicyMic's first columnist and writes for the Millenials and the Media column. She focuses on how the media frames policy and cultural issues, how the media's framing effects public opinion, and in turn how public opinion affects the policies and issues under discussion.

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