Should Twitter and YouTube remove images of James Foley’s beheading, or do we have a right to see them?

The whole discussion is moot, as YouTube and Twitter are corporations that do whatever the hell they feel like. But it’s still around on non-mainstream platforms and will continue to be. The question is do we have a right to see them at all? My answer is yes.

For the record, I didn’t watch the video. It hits a little too close to home. But I will fight for the right to watch it, you bet I will. You can’t force corporations to serve human rights instead of human needs, though. If it’s important to you, download it before whatever platform you’re viewing it on takes it down.


Late Tuesday, the terrorist group known as ISIS released a video that appeared to show members of the group beheading freelance journalist James Foley, who was kidnapped almost two years ago while reporting in Iraq. As they so often do, screenshots and links to the video circulated rapidly through social media — even as some journalists begged others to stop sharing them — while Twitter and YouTube tried to remove them as quickly as possible. But as well-meaning as their behavior might be, do we really want those platforms to be the ones deciding what content we can see or not see? It’s not an easy question.

When I asked that question on Twitter, Nu Wexler — a member of Twitter’s public policy team — said the company removed screenshots from the video at the request of Foley’s relatives, in accordance with a new company policy, which states that…

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Categories: Hackers

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