On Sunday, a picture of Gustavson, posted by his friend Björn Lindeblad to mark his 60th birthday, was removed twice in one day by Facebook. By his own admission, Lindeblad was kicked from his Facebook page, got his password annulled and had to take pains to restore access to his account. Lindeblad lodged a complaint, but received no answer. Subsequently, Lindeblad went on to post the picture for the third time out of sheer protest. This time, the iconic picture of the hero fireman remained and was shared over 21,000 times and 'liked' over 26,000 times.
Björn Lindeblad believes the image was removed as "shocking content" as Lasse Gustavsson had severe burns. He revealed that a closed forum for people with burns experienced the same problems, having their images automatically removed without any explanation.
"But hey, there was nothing in the post alluding to racism, profanity or sex!" an enraged Lindeblad told the Swedish tabloid newspaper Aftenposten.
"I think it's great that people react to what they perceive as undemocratic, and that people are willing to share and comment. I do not think it would be stupid to listen to what many users think," Lasse Gustavson told SVT.
According to Gustavson, Facebook should review their procedures and their means of censorship.
"This could be called a form of racism. To remove [images of] burned people, who are a minority, is indeed a form of it," Gustavson told Aftonbladet.
In 1981, Lasse had burns amounting to 40 percent of his body surface. His lungs, hands and head took the most damage, and he underwent a series of skin grafts. The lungs healed, but the face and hands never recovered; his fingers were amputated, whereas the ears and half of the nose were gone, and the skin was badly scarred. Lasse was unconscious for two months.
Two years after the accident, Lasse managed to return to the fire department and started as lecturer for both firefighters and medical personnel. Later on, Gustavson became a consultant, started his own company and wrote a book. In Sweden, Gustavson also appeared in several radio and TV programs.