Facebook stumbled into the heated debate over Syrian intervention after it removed a graphic photo depicting a Syrian rebel holding the decapitated head of a Christian man over a grill. The social network suggests the image, which received more than 30,000 views and was shared 1,700 times, was removed for its disturbing content, but activists accuse Facebook of silencing opponents of involvement in the Syrian slaughter.
The Daily Mail originally reported on the atrocity in December 2012. The victim, Andrei Arbashe, 38, was beheaded by Islamic extremists after his brother had allegedly complained that the Syrian rebels were “behaving like bandits.”
The publication wrote that Arbashe’s “headless corpse was found by the side of the road, surrounded by hungry dogs.” The Daily Mail story does not contain the graphic photo, but the National Liberty Federation (NLF), a liberty-oriented non-profit organization, posted the image on its Facebook page. The NLF told supporters in a fundraising email that its Facebook page had also been suspended for 12 hours because of the post.
Alleging that Facebook had joined the “‘Establishment’ in promotion of war with Syria and the cover up of war crimes by the Syrian Rebels,” the NLF said, “They want to shut up us up.”
The Syrian rebels are known to be affiliated with the terrorist network al-Qaida. The Obama administration last week announced plans to arm the rebels despite solid public opposition to any involvement in the Syrian civil war. Polls released this week by Gallup and Pew showed 54 percent and 70 percent opposition, respectively, to providing military aid to regime opponents. An April CBS poll showed 62 percent of Americans believe the United States has no responsibility to intervene in the bloody conflict between the Shiite allies of Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite regime and the Sunni insurgency.
The Sunni insurgents now being armed by the United States have committed numerous atrocities in the nearly two years of war, including many instances of beheading civilians and a widely publicized episode of cannibalism a few weeks ago. The NLF claims that the administration and its media allies are suppressing this evidence in order to keep the administration’s unpopular policy from becoming even more unpopular.
“Last week the National Liberty Federation Facebook Page had over 1.5 MILLION VIEWS. Everyday we are under attack by the Socialist trolls working for Obama,” said the NLF.
“They played the same games a few months ago when patriots posted pro Second Amendment pictures and articles,” said the organization.
With a user community of a billion people, however, Facebook’s policing of graphic images in violation of its Community Standards is not necessarily motivated by the political inclinations of the people at the company.
“We maintain a robust reporting infrastructure that leverages the nearly billion people who use our site to keep an eye out for graphic content,” Facebook spokesperson Alison Schumer told The Daily Caller in a statement.
Facebook responds to reports from users who flag content deemed offensive and in violation of its Community Standards.
“This reporting infrastructure includes report links on pages across the Facebook site, systems to prioritize the most serious reports, and a trained team of reviewers who respond to reports and escalate them to law enforcement, or remove the content, as needed,” said Schumer.
“We encourage people to report inappropriate content using the report links on our site, and we remove content that is not compliant with our Statement of Rights & Responsibilities and Community Standards,” she said.
“You can learn more here: https://www.facebook.com/