15 January 2015

Back in September, I responded to suggestions that social media sites should do more to prevent people from accidentally viewing graphic content. Whilst I understand that photojournalism exists in part to make us confront unpleasant truths, I was – and still am – of the opinion that there are some things children in particular shouldn’t have to see.

social_graphic_contentDon’t get me wrong, you can’t wrap your kids up in a protective blanket, but is it fair that they see distressing or violent images during those formative years? I think if there’s a possibility that graphic footage or photographs could cause emotional damage, social media sites are right to put safeguards in place.

What Facebook has done is to introduce a warning message over content uploaded to its site that might “shock, offend and upset” people, based on users reporting it to them. As it’s just a warning and not an outright ban, it seems fair enough.

The footage of a French policeman’s murder by terrorists during the Charlie Hebdo attack also highlights another of the issues around graphic videos online, and that’s about the families of victims. In my opinion, they shouldn’t have to see their loved ones in upsetting situations, especially without warning.

So whilst I understand that the warnings Facebook have put in place might work in reverse psychology, tempting some users to view the hidden content, I believe that ultimately it’s better that these safeguards are there.

Often, the description of upsetting events is enough to shake you to your core, and I don’t think you necessarily need to see all the graphic details to be moved by tragic moments. Images can be out of sight, but still very much in mind.

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