Mark Zuckerberg Accused of Abusing Power With Facebook Censorship

The image has since been posted by the Norwegian Prime Minister and again removed by Facebook.

Today's Aftenposten front page. Photo Hili Perlson.
Today's Aftenposten. Photo Hili Perlson.

The editor-in-chief of Norway’s biggest newspaper has called out Mark Zuckerberg over censorship of a historic war image in a front-page open letter to the Facebook boss.

Espen Egil Hansen, editor-in-chief of the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, took to his own front page in desperation after one of his contributors, Tom Egeland, tried to post to Facebook an article on the The Terror of War featuring “seven photographs that changed the history of warfare.” The post included one of the world’s most iconic war photographs—the 1972 picture of a naked Vietnamese child fleeing from the napalm bombs, which Facebook wanted removed.

“…dear Mark, you are the world’s most powerful editor,” Hansen writes. “Even for a major player like Aftenposten, Facebook is hard to avoid. In fact we don’t really wish to avoid you, because you are offering us a great channel for distributing our content. We want to reach out with our journalism,” the letter reads.

“However, even though I am editor-in-chief of Norway’s largest newspaper, I have to realize that you are restricting my room for exercising my editorial responsibility. This is what you and your subordinates are doing in this case.

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

The Pulitzer Prize winning image of a Vietnamese child, Kim Phuc, running from a Napalm bomb (which became known as “Napalm Girl”) was taken by Nick Ut. One of the most famous war photographs of all time, the image shocked to the extent that some see it as instrumental in bringing the Vietnam War to an end.

Facebook then removed the image, and when Egeland posted a negative comment stating his disappointment that this had happened, he was temporarily banned from the global social networking site.

The reason for the removal of the image is that it contains a naked child.

The long letter states Hansen’s concern at both the removal of the image and the treatment of Egeland.

“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’,” the letter reads.

“The media have a responsibility to consider publication in every single case. This may be a heavy responsibility. Each editor must weigh the pros and cons.

This right and duty, which all editors in the world have, should not be undermined by algorithms encoded in your office in California.”

In more recent news, the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg also posted the image, which has also been removed.

People have taken to Zuckerberg’s own site, Facebook, and to Twitter with the #dearmark hashtag insisting on a response and explanation from the tech boss. However, none has been forthcoming.


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