Facebook to Warn Users About Potentially Disturbing Videos

By David Cohen Comment

WarningGraphicVideo650Facebook is taking steps to eliminate one of the dangers of auto-play videos, displaying a warning prior to allowing users to view potentially disturbing videos, as well as ensuring that users under the age of 18 cannot see graphic photos and videos, BBC News reported.

According to BBC News, videos depicting the execution of Paris policeman Ahmed Merabet during last week’s terrorist attacks on the offices of satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo were among the first to display the warning, which does not allow users to view the videos until they are clicked. The warning reads:

Warning — graphic video. Videos that contain graphic content can shock, offend and upset. Are you sure you want to see this?

The move eliminates some of the stress on Facebook as it fights the ongoing battle of what do with potentially objectionable content — removing content brings cries of censorship, while allowing that content to remain results in protests from offended users.

A Facebook spokeswoman told the BBC:

When people share things on Facebook, we expect that they will share it responsibly, including choosing who will see that content.

We also ask that people warn their audience about what they are about to see if it includes graphic violence.

In instances when people report graphic content to us that should include warnings or is not appropriate for people under the age of 18, we may add a warning for adults and prevent young people from viewing the content.

Family Online Safety Institute CEO Stephen Balkam pushed for the move and told BBC News he was “delighted” that Facebook addressed the concerns of the Facebook Safety Advisory Board member, adding:

I also think that it has walked a very fine line between protection of users and protection of free expression, and I think it has got it just about right.

Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet International, another Facebook Safety Advisory Board member, was equally satisfied, telling BBC News:

It’s a good step to try and help protect people from this content, and we are glad that there is 18 age-gating.

There always has to be the recognition that people don’t always sign up with their accurate age, and we have to be aware of that. But it’s important that there are steps taken to protect people from seeing harmful and disturbing content that they don’t want to see.

A dissenting opinion came from Arthur Cassidy, a psychologist and leader of a branch of the Yellow Ribbon Program suicide-prevention charity, who told BBC News:

At the end of the day, warning messages will not prevent young people from seeing upsetting and psychologically damaging material.

We know if we say, “Do not do it,” they will still do it — they will want to look and view material, irrespective of how grotesque it is.

And it has the potential to influence maladaptive behavior in those who might have the potential to become aggressors themselves.

Readers: What do you think of Facebook’s move to display warnings prior to potentially disturbing videos?

Screenshot courtesy of BBC News.

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