A disturbing video displaying a crying baby being stirred around in a pail of water is at the center of a commotion over internet censorship and social media ethics.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), a child-protection charity, has issued an open letter to the British government and Facebook, after the Menlo Park-based company refused to remove the viral video that shows a naked baby seemingly abused repeatedly in a bucket of water.
The two-minute-long video that initially played on Facebook has exposed a mother in a kitchen, murmuring something while repetitively plunging a crying baby into a container of water while holding the child upside down on its arms and sometimes legs and spinning the baby around.
Members of the online community expressed their outrage over the video, even more when the social media giant refused to shut it down as it did not apparently violate any policy of the company. However as the video spread all over the globe, with some people claiming it as a sample of baby yoga or a cultural ritual, more child protection activists and concerned citizens were convinced it was a straightforward child abuse.
"What is one person's baby yoga in one cultural context is child abuse in another context. The baby is flung about in a very violent way which could cause serious damage to its brain and its limbs. We just don't think it's appropriate for that to be so easily viewable," stated Claire Lilley, the spokesperson of NSPCC on child safety online.
Facebook has now changed its stance and has agreed that the treatment of the baby shown in the video is distressing and inappropriate and will pull any video in instances it would mock or promote the behavior.
Simon Milner, director of policy at Facebook UK, stated the video posed a dilemma for the network and puts Facebook in a difficult situation where it needs to balance the raising of awareness of this type of behavior against the disturbing nature of the video. Milner added sharing such content online could help thwart abuse and that the company has been in contact with authorities.
However, he mentioned that posts criticizing the behavior that could possibly help to point out abuse and protect children will continue with a warning and could still be accessed by people over the age of 18 only.
"We have seen from experience that when things like that are shared on Facebook it can and does lead to the rescue of the child. We hope very much that this will happen in this case," Milner shared with BBC.
Photo: cianc | Flickr