Norwegian Newspaper Slams Zuckerberg Over Deleted Photo


The editor-in-chief of Norway's largest newspaper has accused Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg of abusing his position as "world's most powerful editor."

In a 1,400-word essay published Thursday, Espen Egil Hansen (pictured), head of Norwegian daily Aftenposten, called out Facebook and Zuckerberg for deleting a famous war photograph.

Last month, Tom Egeland shared on the social network a series of seven images that changed the history of warfare, including the 1973 Pulitzer Prize-winning picture of a naked Kim Phúc fleeing napalm bombs. Shot by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut in South Vietnam in June 1972, the image depicts the 9-year-old girl—stripped of her burning clothes—running with several other children to safety.

Two weeks after posting the photo to Facebook, Egeland was temporarily banned from the site. Aftenposten then wrote a story about the ban and posted its story—and the photo—to the paper's Facebook page. It too was later removed.

"Any photographs of people displaying fully nude genitalia or buttocks, or fully nude female breasts, will beremoved," Facebook said in a warning to Aftenposten, asking that the paper remove or pixelate the picture.

"Less than 24 hours after the e-mail was sent, and before I had time to give my response, you intervened yourselves and deleted the article as well as the image from Aftenposten's Facebook page," Hansen wrote in his open letter to Zuckerberg. "I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly."

Editorial judgment "should not be undermined by algorithms encoded in your office in California," Hansen told Zuckerberg.

"If you will not distinguish between child pornography and documentary photographs from a war, this will simply promote stupidity and fail to bring human beings closer to each other," he added.

The newspaper editor suggested that Facebook introduce geographic guidelines to better serve different areas of the world with different social, political, and religious rules.

The letter, posted on the newspaper's website, is accompanied by a "commentary" from Aftenposten's 73-year-old cartoonist, Inge Grødum, who placed a Facebook logo over Kim Phúc's groin and added the following message: "Fritt etter Huynh Cong Ut og Mark Zuckerberg" (which roughly translates to "Free by Nick Ut and Mark Zuckerberg").

Facebook did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.

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