Facebook told BuzzFeed News that after a careful review of the video, it did not believe it promoted or encouraged animal cruelty. However, it acknowledged that some people may find the images upsetting.
“People come to Facebook to share experiences of the world around them and on occasion this may result in the sharing of content that some may find upsetting,” a spokesperson from Facebook told BuzzFeed News.
“While we do not allow content that directly encourages violence, we try to create a safe environment that balances people’s desire to express themselves and in some cases condemn what they see.”
Facebook’s argument is that if it prevented users from sharing similarly shocking content, it would be problematic for charities and news organisations attempting to raise awareness of atrocities around the world.
It gave the Arab Spring as an example of the type of content it would never take down, saying that atrocities caught by photographers during the uprising would have been far less likely to be discovered or shared if it had a different practice for removing content.
Facebook has a history of controversial decisions when it comes to banning content.
– In October 2013, Facebook overturned a ban of videos of beheadings. Their decision was condemned by UK prime minister David Cameron, who said: “It’s irresponsible of Facebook to post beheading videos, especially without a warning. They must explain their actions to worried parents.”
– Earlier this year, an Italian woman’s Facebook account was blocked after she posted a pro-LGBT image of two women kissing. She had her account swiftly restored.
– Facebook banned a fundraising page set up by a father for his young son awaiting heart transplant, saying the photo used on it was “too graphic”.
– Facebook relaxed its ban on photographs of breastfeeding mothers earlier this year, the Huffington Post revealed. The move came after a string of controversial decisions to ban photos of mothers breastfeeding.