Facebook slammed for “abuse of power” after blocking Vietnam War picture

According to reports, Norway’s major newspaper Aftenposten has blamed Social networking giant Facebook of an “abuse of power” following the network removed one of the most iconic pictures from the Vietnam war from its newsfeed.

Aftenposten’s editor-in-chief and chief executive Espen Egil Hansen accused that the Silicon Valley-based tech company is discouraging editors’ ability to decide what they publish.

This is the latest example of increasing stress between old-style news publishers and Facebook over the influence of the social media group to distribute content. Linda Helleland, Norway’s culture minister, has called for a meeting between Norwegian editors and Facebook to discuss free speech in response.

The dispute started after Aftenposten posted an article by the Norwegian author Tom Egeland which discussed photographs which had changed the history of warfare.

The post comprised the famous picture of a naked young girl escaping a napalm bomb attack taken by the photographer Nick Ut during the Vietnam War.

Mr Egil Hansen reportedly received an email from Facebook’s office in Hamburg asking the newspaper to eliminate the picture from its Facebook page because of the social media platform’s rules on publishing images of child nakedness. And before the newspaper had a chance to take an action, Facebook then removed the article and the picture from its feed. A following post by the author Mr Egeland, slating the verdict to remove the photo, was then also prohibited from publication, according to Mr Egil Hansen’s letter.

The Aftenposten editor goes on: “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. Editors cannot live with you, Mark, as a master editor.”

Facebook did not commented on the issue yet.

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