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    Abreast of the Times: Facebook Removes Video Manual by Swedish Cancer Society

    © REUTERS / Dado Ruvic
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    After barely a day and nearly 100,000 views, the Swedish Cancer Society's video manual on how to detect breast cancer was removed from Facebook. Ironically, the manual was labeled "adult product."

    On October 18, the Swedish Cancer Society uploaded an explanatory video on its Facebook page to educate women in the art of self-examining their breasts in order to facilitate early detection of cancer. The next day, the video was removed by Facebook for "marketing adult products," the Swedish tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet reported.

    "Our goal is to save lives. The fact that it should not be allowed on Facebook is incomprehensible," Cancer Society communications director Lena Biörnstad.

    The video called "Breast School" is already available on the organizations' website, but the idea was to spread the word and distribute the guide to more people. In the video, two pink circles symbolizing women's breasts are seen. In less than a day the video gathered some 100,000 views and over 4,000 likes. At present, the Swedish Cancer Society's "Rose Ribbon" and "Rose Wave" campaigns, both spearheaded by Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander, are in full swing.

    ​"This is important medical information. One of our most important missions is to provide information on how to detect cancer as early as possible," Lena Biörnstad said.

    In the course of the past week, the "Breast School" video was modified several times in order to meet Facebook requirements, yet ended up being removed nonetheless. Current Facebook policies prohibit the display of actual nude people, not paintings or sculptures (let alone pictograms and schematics). However, restrictions to the display of nudity and sexual activity do not apply to digitally generated content, if not posted in educational, humorous or satirical purpose.

    "They need not be so childishly formal in their assessments," Biörnstad told the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen.

    Previously, Facebook came under fire for censoring an iconic war photo of Vietnamese girl Kim Phuc running naked from a napalm attack during the Vietnam War. The Pulitzer prize-winning photograph by Nick Ut was removed from Norwegian author Tom Egeland's and subsequently even Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg's Facebook pages for "public nudity."

    ​Solberg, who went on to repost the iconic image claimed Facebook was "trying to edit our common history," whereas Norwegian daily Aftenposten's editor-in-chief Espen Egil Hansen accused Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of "abusing his power."

    Phuc herself, who managed to survive the attack displayed in the cult photograph and eventually moved to Canada, claimed to be "saddened" by the shift from the powerful message to nudity.


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    cancer, censorship, Facebook, Scandinavia, Sweden
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