Facebook Allows Postings of 'Napalm Girl' Photo After Debate | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Facebook Allows Postings of 'Napalm Girl' Photo After Debate

The revolt escalated on Friday when Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg posted the image on her profile and Facebook deleted that too



    Linda Deutsch/AP
    In 1972, Associated Press photographer Nick Ut, right, shot the iconic image of then 9-year-old Kim Phuc, left, running naked down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on her village in Vietnam. She is shown here reunited with Mr. Ut at the Los Angeles bureau of the Associated Press, June 27, 2016.

    Facebook on Friday reversed its decision to remove postings of an iconic 1972 image of a naked, screaming girl running from a napalm attack in Vietnam, after a Norwegian revolt against the tech giant.

    Protests in Norway started last month after Facebook deleted the Pulitzer Prize-winning image by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut from a Norwegian author's page, saying it violated its rules on nudity.

    The revolt escalated on Friday when Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg posted the image on her profile and Facebook deleted that too.

    Initially, it stood by the decision, saying it was difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others. But late Friday it said it would allow sharing of the photo.

    Otters, Bears, Giraffes Enjoy Halloween Treat at Oregon Zoo

    [NATL] Otters, Bears, Giraffes Enjoy Halloween Treat at Oregon Zoo
    Animals at the Oregon Zoo have been getting Halloween-themed treats, like stuffed jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins that keep the critters happy mentally and physically. (Published 5 hours ago)

    "In this case, we recognize the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time," Facebook said in a statement. "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."

    Politicians of all stripes, journalists and regular Norwegians had backed Solberg's decision to share the image.

    The prime minister told Norwegian broadcaster NRK she was pleased with Facebook's change of heart and that it shows social media users' opinions matter. 

    "To speak up and say we want change, it matters and it works. And that makes me happy," she said. 

    The image shows screaming children running from a burning Vietnamese village. The little girl in in the center of the frame, Kim Phuc, is naked and crying as the napalm melts away layers of her skin.

    "Today, pictures are such an important element in making an impression, that if you edit past events or people, you change history and you change reality," Solberg told the AP earlier Friday, adding it was the first time one of her Facebook posts was deleted.

    Solberg later reposted the image with a black box covering the girl from the thighs up. She also posted other iconic photos of historic events, such as the man standing in front of a tank in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989, with black boxes covering the protagonists.

    Like its Scandinavian neighbors, Norway takes pride in its freedom of speech. It's also a largely secular nation with relaxed attitudes about nudity.

    Superhero Window Washers Brighten Children's Day

    [NATL-DFW] Superhero Window Washers Brighten Children's Day
    Patients at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island were treated to a surprise visit Tuesday afternoon. A team of window washers dressed up like Captain America, Batman and Spiderman brought smiles to the faces of young patients. All three heroes scaled the hospital's exterior right outside patients' room windows. (Published 5 hours ago)

    Several members of the Norwegian government followed Solberg's lead and posted the photo on their Facebook pages. One of them, Education Minister Torbjorn Roe Isaksen, said it was "an iconic photo, part of our history."

    Many of the posts were deleted but Isaksen's was still up Friday afternoon. The photo was also left untouched on a number of Facebook accounts, including the AP's.

    It would be physically impossible for the company to comb through the hundreds of millions of photos posted each day so it relies on user reports and algorithms to weed out pictures that go against its terms of service.

    Photos are often automatically removed if enough people report them. Facebook usually does not proactively remove photos, with some exceptions, such as child pornography.

    Bears Predict World Series Winner

    [NATL-DFW] Bears Predict World Series Winner
    Grizzly bears at the Cleveland Zoo have predicted the winner of the World Series. Two grizzly bears were presented with two pumpkins coated in jam. One pumpkin for the Cleveland Indians, the other for the Chicago Cubs. In the end both grizzlies chowed down on the same pumpkin choosing the Cleveland Indians to win. (Published 5 hours ago)

    Because of this, what photos are and aren't removed can sometimes be inconsistent, and sometimes leads to Facebook reinstating the photos after removing them.

    Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten published the photo on its front page Friday and also wrote an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in which chief editor Espen Egil Hansen accused the social media giant of abusing its power.

    Hansen said he was "upset, disappointed — well, in fact even afraid — of what you are about to do to a mainstay of our democratic society."

    The uproar also spread outside of Norway, with the head of Denmark's journalism union urging people to share Hansen's open letter. Germany's Justice Minister Heiko Maas, who has previously clashed with Facebook over its failure to remove hate speech deemed illegal in Germany, also weighed in, saying "illegal content should vanish from the Internet, not photos that move the whole world."

    Yoga Pants Parade Protests Op-Ed in Rhode Island

    [NATL] Yoga Pants Parade Protests Op-Ed in Rhode Island
    Hundreds of people took to the streets in Barrington, Rhode Island this weekend to protest an op-ed written in the local newspaper that many found offensive. The letter, written by Alan Sorrentino, critiques older women who wear yoga pants in public, saying the clothing does not compliment a woman over 20 years-old. "This is way more than yoga pants. It is women fed up with the policing of our wardrobes," said parade organizer, Jamie Burke. Sorrentino claims that his op-ed was just a joke but many are calling his comments sexist. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016)

    Facebook's statement said it will adjust its review mechanisms to permit sharing of the image going forward.

    "We are always looking to improve our policies to make sure they both promote free expression and keep our community safe, and we will be engaging with publishers and other members of our global community on these important questions going forward," it said.

    Paul Colford, AP vice president and director of media relations, said: "The Associated Press is proud of Nick Ut's photo and recognizes its historical impact. In addition, we reserve our rights to this powerful image."

    Before it was published 44 years ago, AP also had a discussion about the image because it violated the news agency's policy on full-frontal nudity.

    Cute Pandas Celebrate 100 Days

    [NATL-DFW] Cute Pandas Celebrate 100 Days
    Twin panda cubs in a zoo in southwest China have celebrated their first 100 days of life. They feasted on a specially made cake at a party of visitors. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016)

    Hal Buell, then AP's executive news photo editor in New York, said he received a message from Saigon photo editor Horst Faas saying a "controversial picture" was coming up.

    "Maybe we discussed it on the desk for 10-15 minutes," said Buell, who is now retired. "But there is nothing about this picture that is prurient. How can we not publish this picture? It captures the horrors of war. It captures the terrible situation of innocents caught in the cross-fire of the war."

    AP published the image and media worldwide used it, though some chose not to, Buell said.