Facebook under fire from European press councils

Facebook under fire from European press councils

A network of 34 press councils is calling on Facebook to guarantee it will not edit or remove journalistic content in the wake of a censorship scandal.

The Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe (AIPCE) penned a letter to Facebook arguing European media is already regulated by independent press councils and codes of ethics.

It called on Facebook to commit to respecting press freedom and recommended Facebook and other social media not “intervene against journalism”.

“When the providers of social media intervene against journalism they risk to damage the credibility of journalism,” the AIPCE letter read.

The AIPCE did, however, agree it is reasonable for individuals including bloggers to be subject to a social media network’s own code of ethics as they are not part of the media’s ethical system.

The letter follows international outrage from journalists over Facebook’s decision to remove an iconic Vietnam War photo of a naked nine-year-old fleeing a napalm attack because it breached the site’s community standards.

Norway’s largest newspaper Aftenposten published an open letter to Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg after an iconic Vietnam War photo was censored on the platform

Norway’s largest newspaper Aftenposten published an open letter to Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg after an iconic Vietnam War photo was censored on the platform

Facebook has since reversed the decision and signaled it would allow more public interest content onto the platform even if it breached its community standards.

The site said it would work with journalists, law enforcement officials and other stakeholders to improve its content moderation. The AIPCE is keen to join the conversation.

Chair of the Australian Press Council, David Weisbrot, welcomed the AIPCE’s action and spoke out against Facebook’s interference at the AIPCE’s annual conference last month.

“I spoke critically about Facebook applying crude once-size-fits-all policies without any thought or discretion, and taking no account of whether an article was already subject to ethical scrutiny by a press council or was covering a matter of public interest,” Professor Weisbrot said.

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