‘Brutally Honest’: Public Outcry Forces Facebook To Stop Banning Pics Of Starving Yemeni Girl

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Above Photo: A woman is holding an emaciated child in hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. September 2016. © Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

A backlash prompted Facebook to stop removing posts featuring a photo of an emaciated seven-year-old Yemeni girl, which accompanied a harrowing New York Times report from the war-torn country.

The atrocities in Yemen don’t make poignant headlines in Western mainstream media as often as stories about chemical weapons in Syria or ‘Russian meddling,’ as the conflict usually gets sidelined in the press, but there are notable exceptions. ‘The Tragedy of Saudi Arabia’s War’ was the title of a grim report published by the NYT on Friday.

An image of a starved child named Amal Hussain was chosen by the journalists to illustrate the horrible death toll and suffering inflicted on the small Arab nation of Yemen by the armed intervention of its Saudi neighbor.

Readers quickly began sharing the story on Facebook. They were surprised to learn that the company had been removing their posts for supposedly violating the social network’s ‘sexual material’ guidelines.

As the backlash soared, Facebook announced that it would cease to delete posts featuring the photo, and promised to restore the ones it had already removed. The IT giant explained that its rules prohibit the display of nude images of children, but admitted that the picture from the NYT story is “an important image of global significance.”

The NYT stated in response that they will continue to publish unsettling images while reporting on the war in Yemen. “They are brutal. But they are also brutally honest. They reveal the horror that is Yemen today,” its journalists wrote.

© Anees Mahyoub / Reuters

Saudi Arabia has led a military intervention in Yemen since 2015. The kingdom got involved in the conflict on behalf of the local government struggling with the armed Houthi rebels. The ensuing air raids, combined with heavy fighting on the ground, left more than 6,600 civilians dead and many more injured and displaced. The harsh Saudi-imposed blockade has led to cholera outbreaks and widespread famine.

Meanwhile, the NYT case is not the first time Facebook was blasted for censoring ‘important images,’ citing its own guidelines. In 2016, the company banned the world-famous 1972 photo showing a nude nine-year-old girl running away from a napalm attack in Vietnam. Following immense criticism, the social network recognized its mistake and ceased deleting the iconic image.

  • dopfa

    Haven’t seen any meaningful reports on the bombed and starving children in Yemen in the mainstream media, not that I watch it anyway. The US government helps the Saudis blow up school bus loads of innocent children and America doesn’t care. Its government has leveled whole nations of women and children just since 9-11 and the people just go about their daily ignorant, apathetic business. Madeleine Albright admitted to helping murder a half a million children with Clinton’s sanctions on Iraq. “We think the price was worth it.” Americans don’t care. Maybe we should report the children as starving, well-developed embryos and Americans will give a rat’s ass.

  • larrysherk

    Clearly Facebook’s “Community Standards” is just one more wing of our new totalitarian fascist state. When we finish waking up, This WON’T LAST for long. We are not short of courage or bravery, and with a cause like this it is not possible to die in vain.

  • larrysherk

    Americans have been preoccupied, some of us have been spoiled rotten, we are used to being protected by two oceans, and we are catching on slow. But we are good people, just like the rest of the people in the world, and will all unite to end this in God’s good time — synchronicity. What we see is the last desperate gasp of a departing dark energy. Let none of us slip into thinking we are “too good” for this struggle.