Saturday, September 10, 2016

Are "iconic" photographs off limits for censorship? #NapalmGirl #113

Probably one of the strongest anti-war images ever...

Image source: Wikipedia.
Credit: Nick Ut / The Associated Press
One of the defining photographs from the Vietnam War of a nine year old Kim Phuc running away from a napalm strike (taken by Huynh Cong "Nick" Ut on June 8th, 1972), is in the news today for all the wrong reasons. Facebook has got itself into a spot of bother by first removing this photograph from a Norwegian author's page because of a violation of its nudity rules, and then restoring it after a backlash in Norway when Prime Minister Erna Solberg posted the image on her profile and Facebook deleted that as well.

The first point about this is that Facebook has a tremendous amount of power in that they can delete/restore content on a user's page - we agreed to let them do this when we signed up to Facebook. I have no objection to rules on nudity being imposed - in fact I agree that Facebook is not the place for this and that normally it would be the right thing to do to remove images portraying nudity. So why not the same rule for a nine year old girl with no clothes on?

The power of an image such as Nick Ut's on-the-spot photograph goes beyond Facebook's clumsy implementation of censorship. It is probably one of the most recognisable photographs of all time and and its powerful image far exceeds what a gobshite paedophile might get from this. We must have the moral courage to look at a photograph like this and see the consequences of war - not a nude. Shame on you Facebook.

Permission to reproduce the photograph is given by Wikipedia as long as it is credited to Nick Ut and the Associated Press as I have done above.

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