Facebook has reinstated that iconic photograph originally taken down for containing nudity


A Norwegian newspaper that dedicated its front-page story to an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg after Facebook censored an iconic historical photograph has had its voice heard.

Espen Egil Hansen, editor-in-chief of Norway's largest newspaper Aftenposten, received a demand that his newspaper remove a historical picture of the Vietnam War from an article on Facebook on the grounds that it contained nudity.. Before Hansen was able to reply to the request, Facebook removed the article altogether.

The cover to Norway's largest circulation newspaper, Aftenposten
(Cornelius Poppe/AP)

The move sparked a debate about Facebook's role as an editor. Hansen said in the open letter that the ban was "an abuse of power".

The tech giant said it had "listened to the community" and acknowledged the "global importance" of the photo.

"Because of its status as an iconic image of historical importance, the value of permitting sharing outweighs the value of protecting the community by removal, so we have decided to reinstate the image on Facebook where we are aware it has been removed," it said in a statement.

"It will take some time to adjust these systems but the photo should be available for sharing in the coming days.

"We are always looking to improve our policies to make sure they both promote free expression and keep our community safe."

Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg
(Peter Dejong/AP)

The Norwegian prime minister - who had earlier posted a copy of the photo on Facebook herself only to see it removed - welcomed the decision.

"That's very good, I'm a happy prime minister," Erna Solberg told BBC Radio 4´s The World Tonight programme.

"It shows that using social media can make (a) political change even in social media."

The picture which caused the problem shows a naked, nine-year-old Kim Phuc running from an aerial napalm attack with her cousins during the war. The image was being used as part of an article on seven photographs which changed the history of warfare.