Video of beheadings can be located on the internet but when one of them appeared on Facebook, it triggered a review of its policy on graphic content. The social media site changed its mind twice about removing it. The violent video has now been taken down.
"Facebook's in the process of building out an increasingly large 'Law of Facebook,' where it's going to set its rules of the road with its more detailed and complicated guidance to its users," Eric Goldman explained.
Goldman is director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. He says the internet and social media sites need to consider privacy, free speech, and global users living in other countries with more restrictive laws.
"The beheading videos are something I personally would not want to watch, but they might also be an important part of a robust discourse about very important social issues," Goldman said.
Facebook declined an interview with ABC7 News, but laid out its new policy in a statement. "We will remove content that celebrates violence. We ask that people who share graphic content for the purpose of condemning it do so in a responsible manner, carefully selecting their audience and warning them about the nature of the content," it says.
Facebook users told ABC7 News Wednesday that they agree with the decision to remove the beheading video because of the risk to young users.
"I definitely think that it could have an impact on somebody, especially the young Facebook users who are out there and seeing what their peers may be doing and watching. It could influence them in a negative way, but there is freedom of speech and freedom of whatever people want to post," said Michaela Scanlon, a college student.
Facebook's revised policy seems to focus on the intent of posting a graphic video. If it celebrates violence, it will be pulled. But if the intent is to condemn violence, then it can be posted with appropriate warnings and caution.