Facebook Rules.Or to put that another way, “The Rules of Facebook” are in the news.
Facebook has a positive role to play in social development, and its provision of a useful international platform for the often unheard voices of the oppressed is arguable more valid than the posting of endless selfies(sic) and other banter which entertain so many millions of Facebook users. Many would be quick to say that as well as a platform for the voices from politically or socially oppressed societies of the world, Facebook also has a social responsibility to try its best to avoid enabling some negative social impacts from the materials which it hosts. The current issue is that FB says they wish to allow the posting of videos of a horrifically violent nature because that’s how freedom and democracy works best. And that they need to allow people to post and view what they want in order to allow the unheard people to be heard and to spread knowledge of their plight. The underlying motive sounds laudable; most of us are in favour of freedom and unchaining the oppressed.
But if that argument was to be accepted, then Facebook should be allowing ALL violent, pornographic, oppressive images which are posted on its servers for viewing by the Facebook community (1.1 billion at March 2013 – a sixth of the world’s population give or take). Some observers might wonder what God like abilities and moral authority do Facebook hold which allows them to choose to show a decapitation but not to show a rape? Which committee or individual is making this judgement?
Is not the decapitation, like rape, an event which includes at least one unwilling participant, the victim? So what’s the fine distinction being drawn between that horrific spectacle (for a spectacle it is – its not informing a viewer of anything is it? merely confirming what they already knew to be a heinous act of depravity). But well, what’s the valuation to be put on other human activities which are so often captured on mobile phones these days. Let’s not list these but a few obvious ones may raise an eyebrow or two. For instance the activity of a paedophile perhaps ranks as not permissible, but wait a minute…….. then how can the act of chopping another humans head off be deemed acceptable to Facebook? It’s not necessary to list the various atrocities which recent war zones have thrown up, never mind what goes on behind closed doors in many societies throughout the world, but we all know there have been many and varied types of actions one human on another which would not pass muster for general viewing. What finessing of judgement makes the act of beheading (in one case a man beheading a woman) any more palatable than other acts of extreme depravity?
All of the above is of course open to discussion in a civilized society extreme views are heard as well as more mainstream thinking. There’s no civilization since the start of mankind, throughout the great epochs of history that has been untainted by these acts and therefore no one is above or beyond it. But on a simple practical level why would we, as a civilized society wish to be exposed to these images? More importantly why would we want our children to be exposed to these things? Don’t adults have a duty to protect the young of society? Obviously they do. That’s a social responsibility which society recognizes and backs up with many laws and punishments for those who transgress.
No doubt there are high powered psychological reasoning which would explain the possible effects of exposure to these images…. but surely it’s obvious. A fleeting glimpse of such an act can leave a long lasting impression of a kind and with ramifications we cannot know. Ramifications which may never come to the surface or ones which cause depression, solicitude and other unhappy outcomes for an individual but which cannot be traced back to any singular reason or event (as hard as the many caring agencies may try).
All these are arguably a heavy cost to wider society. The pornography of violence is a known area of contention and what is the Facebook policy other than a channel for exactly that? There’s no valid information being passed, no underlying communication, no revolutionary cry to be passed through the actions unveiled on the Facebook website. So what is their point?
All views and insights welcome. Drop me a line.It would be interesting to hear from anyone who can throw light on the reason for Facebook allowing this when they do, as they have demonstrated if not boasted, have the technical ability to disallow such postings? The fact that some things are allowed and some are not is indeed a very inconsistent policy. Surely this is common sense. If so why not apply that common sense? Whats your opinion?