This just in: Beheading videos are now allowed on your Facebook feed, so long as they’re not feeding your inner sadist. Decapitation is cool, apparently; just don’t be weird about it.
Back in May, some unsavory videos surfaced on Facebook. Expectedly, the heads — no pun intended — of the corporation considered those kinds of unsettling visuals to be “explicit content” and banned them from the site for violating Facebook’s community standards. The posts were removed, and those of us who managed to avoid the clips could ensure that the sweetness of our dreams would not be corrupted.
Well, here we are in October and yet another disturbing end to a human life has been posted. However, this time Facebook has decided to lift its ban on decapitation videos. A revision to its Terms and Conditions clarified this type of thing is allowed so long as it’s being condemned and not promoted.
Sorry ‘bout it, decapitation advocates.
While you could argue along with Facebook that condemnation of something so disturbing renders it OK for posting, who is really out there to fight this? The video featured two unknown people in what most would assume is Mexico. I don’t know how much time gangs, terrorists, serial killers and the like spend promoting their actions via social networking, but I’m certain your “condemnation” isn’t going to dissuade those in favor of such violence.
Facebook has a set of guidelines to follow when posting such material, most of which are written as suggestions. As an example, the site suggests that users “warn their audience about the nature of the content in the video so that their audience can make an informed choice about whether to watch it.”
Why, yes, Facebook, that would be lovely. The trouble here is, for a lot of us, basic human curiosity is going to drive us to view things we know we really shouldn’t.
Of course, it’s not Facebook’s job to save us from ourselves, but allowing these videos to appear on anyone’s unsuspecting timeline is just plain indecency.
In reality, the accidental stumble upon such footage isn’t going to be productive. The video may give you nightmares or just ruin your day, not to mention potentially scar the minds of the ever-so curious young ones who might happen to catch a glimpse of it.
Meanwhile, talks of opening the gates of hell — I mean, Facebook — to adolescents under the age of 13 are ensuing. Does that really seem like a legal can of worms Facebook should be opening, given that these violent videos are surfacing and being left available for anyone to see?
It’s not just limited to human snuff, either. The Houston Press published a feature story on May 15 about “crush” videos, which are grotesque videos that show people mutilating animals, usually cats or dogs. A federal judge in Texas ruled in April that a law prohibiting such videos violated the First Amendment rights of a couple who produced an animal torture video.
“Free speech” is being used as justification for unsavory spectacles now more than ever, but the freedom to exploit the horror film-esque demise of a human being (or any living creature), known or unknown, isn’t an action that should be protected under one’s right to freedom of expression.
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