Facebook decapitation video forces U-turn over graphic violence

Facebook has removed a graphically violent video that had been circulating around the social network, reviewing its policies on sharing in the process so as to reduce the amount of controversial content that is posted without any warning or consideration of audience. The company prompted raised eyebrows when it surprisingly permitted the sharing of a video showing a graphic decapitation earlier this week, with complaints both from regular users, police forces, and politicians.

Facebook now says it will more stringently enforce its policies around content that might contribute to "the glorification of violence," though it will not ban such content outright.

"First, when we review content that is reported to us, we will take a more holistic look at the context surrounding a violent image or video, and will remove content that celebrates violence" the site said.

"Second, we will consider whether the person posting the content is sharing it responsibly, such as accompanying the video or image with a warning and sharing it with an age-appropriate audience."

According to the BBC, the policy change around graphic violent content was actually made at Facebook back in July. The company "did not think the public would be interested to know" that it had dropped its ban on extreme violence, the site claims.

Having "re-examined" the beheading clip, Facebook has now opted to remove it, since it falls foul of the two criteria.

"Going forward, we ask that people who share graphic content for the purpose of condemning it do so in a responsible manner," Facebook concludes, "carefully selecting their audience and warning them about the nature of the content so they can make an informed choice about it."

Earlier this week, Facebook said that it would be increasing the number of ways that it could warn potential viewers that the video they were about to watch could be upsetting. "This may include warning them in advance that the image they are about to see contains graphic content" the social site suggested.