Facebook under fire for censoring iconic Vietnam War photo

Nick Ut's historic photo was deleted from Facebook as it featured 9-year-old Kim Phuc nude
Nick Ut's historic photo was deleted from Facebook as it featured 9-year-old Kim Phuc nude

Facebook is reversing its decision to remove Nick Ut's famous "napalm girl" photo from the Vietnam War after an attack from the Norwegian prime minister, who said the photo "shaped world history".

Facebook initially said the picture, which depicts a nine-year-old naked girl running from a napalm attack, violated its community standards against nudity.

"In this case, we recognise the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time," the company said in a statement on Friday.

Norwegian newspaper Afteposten had published a front-page open letter to the social media network's CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticising his "abuse of power".

"I am upset, disappointed  well, in fact even afraid  of what you are about to do to a mainstay of our democratic society," writes editor-in-chief and CEO Espen Egil Hansen.

"I am worried that the world's most important medium is limiting freedom instead of trying to extend it, and that this occasionally happens in an authoritarian way."

Mr Zuckerberg has been described as "the world's most powerful editor" due to Facebook's takeover as kingpin of the international distribution of news and information.

The historic Pulitzer prize-winning Vietnam War photo was featured in a post that discussed "seven photographs that changed the history of warfare" - a post Facebook deleted and the poster suspended from Facebook.

"I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly," writes Mr Hansen, expressing alarm at such a company failing to "distinguish between child pornography and famous war photographs".

A Facebook spokesperson has told media it "recognises" the photo is iconic, but says "it's difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others."

The growing reliance on Facebook as a news source is a growing concern to academics worldwide, as it gives the company the potential to massively influence public opinion.

Reuters / Newshub.