Sep 9, 2016 · 3 minutes

You don't need me to tell you that the image above -- Nick Ut's "The Terror of War," known popularly as "the Napalm girl" -- is one of the most iconic and important war photographs ever published. 


Let me add a caveat. 

Unless you are Mark Zuckerberg or any of Facebook's other senior executives, you don't need me to tell you that the image above-- Nick Ut's "The Terror of War," known popularly as "the Napalm girl" -- is one of the most iconic and important war photographs ever published. 

Earlier this week, Facebook took the frankly unfathomable step of demanding that Aftenposted editor Espen Egil Hansen censor a copy of the Napalm Girl photograph that he'd posted on his account. Specifically they suggested that he “either remove or pixelize” the girl. I wish I were joking. 

Worse still, the reason Hansen's publication had posted the image in the first place was because Facebook had previously suspended the account of another Norwegian writer, Tom Egeland, for posting it.   

As the Guardian reports: "Before Aftenposten could respond, Hansen writes, Facebook deleted the article and image from the newspaper’s Facebook page."

Condemnation from journalists was swift, and even Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg reposted The Terror of War in solidarity with the principles of press freedom. As many asked: If Facebook were in charge of the news during Vietnam (as they are certainly in charge now) would the world have ever seen that image in the first place?

In a right and proper world, Facebook would have immediately apologized to Egeland and Hansen and perhaps even promoted the Prime Minister’s post.

That’s not what Facebook did next. What Facebook did next was to censor the goddamned Norwegian Prime Minister.

Facebook has lost its fucking mind.

The fact that Napalm Girl is an outrage to the company’s community standards but Donald Trump is allowed to run riot, smearing and slandering women and muslims and anyone else he takes a disliking to in clear breach of those same standards, is so far past disgusting and hypocritical that we might need to invent a new word. Especially when you factor in the company’s repeated failure to prevent provably fake news sources polluting its trending feed and how quickly Zuckerberg himself apologized for Mark Andreessen’s (Pando investor etc etc) boneheaded comments about India.

In other words: Facebook and Zuckerberg are fine with censoring the most important war photograph of all time, and with censoring the Norwegian prime minister when she objects. But don’t you dare upset Trump or Modi or there’ll be hell to pay.

(Idea: Maybe Donald Trump could repost the Napalm Girl image and call her "low energy" and "disgusting". Then FB will likely promote it.)

I’m sure right now there are lots of conversations at Facebook about how they can explain the censorship. How to make we dummies understand that, while Zuck supports press freedom in theory, algorithms are gonna be algorithms and they can’t risk upsetting a few billion users by posting a naked girl, regardless of context. It’s a slippery slope from Napalm Girl to Two Napalm Girls One Cup. Trust us! We care! We’re listening!

To which the only possible response is: No, you don’t care. If you cared, Mark Zuckerberg would have already made a groveling statement of apology, like the one the company made to right wingers for censoring their troll headlines. Or the one he made to Modi for something one of his board members said on a completely separate platform. Or the one he’ll one day have to make to his children and grandchildren for aiding and abetting the rise of Donald Trump. Then he’d have promised that, within days, Facebook would publish a very clear statement on how the company will treat news images in future.

But, no, you don't care.

And so now every journalist in the world should repost the image on their pages and invite Facebook to ban or censor them too. Perhaps if Facebook bans all the journalists, it'll be easier for news organizations to get over their dangerous addiciton to and dependence on this increasingly sociopathic platform.