Facebook came under fire after repeatedly removing a birthday picture of burn victim Lasse Gustavson this week, only backing down after a post calling the social network’s actions “disgusting” was shared over 10,000 times.
Bjorn Lindeblad posted the picture of his friend Gustavson, a former fireman who suffers from serious burns over his face, to celebrate his 60th birthday on Monday along with a celebratory message. However the image was quickly removed not once, but twice by the platform.
“It’s an offensive system Facebook has with this kind of censorship. You could call it a kind of racism,” said Gustavson, who was left disfigured after a fire 35 years ago. “When I was 24, I probably would have felt offended and upset that pictures of me were considered wrong and unpleasant… It is a very volatile and sensitive time… but now I have lived so long with my burns.”
The post was restored after Lindeblad contacted Facebook to complain and made a viral post criticizing the social network.
“Would you like to help me protest against a despicable Facebook policy?” posted Lindeblad on Facebook. “Then please share and spread this photo of one of the most beautiful souls I know. I’m now posting it on Facebook for the third time within 36 hours. Facebook has removed the photo twice already, with no explanation whatsoever. And then they expelled me from my Facebook account.”
“At first, I was flabbergasted” Lindeblad continued. “Then several burn victims contacted me and explained that photos of burn victims are often classified in the same category as sexist and racist photos on Facebook. Oh dear. So let’s let Facebook know how we feel about this policy by spreading this photo far and wide!”
Facebook apologized for the “mistake,” claiming, “A member of our team accidentally removed something you posted on Facebook. This was a mistake, and we sincerely apologise for this error. We’ve reinstated the content, and you should now be able to see it.”
In September, Facebook were criticized after banning an iconic Vietnam War photograph portraying a naked girl crying during a napalm attack. The ban led to both Norway’s biggest newspaper editor Epsen Egil Hansen and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg being sanctioned on the social network before Facebook apologized.
The social network has also taken a firm and obtuse stance against harmless comedy meme pages, deleting and then reinstating the popular anti-SJW page “Meninist,” removing anti-Hillary Clinton comedy pages, and even sanctioning page admins for uploading pictures of the rapper Drake morphed into a Nintendo 64 controller, forcing Facebook’s top comedy creators to start a revolt against the social network.