Facebook makes second U-turn and removes beheading video

After initially refusing to track back on a decision to revoke a ban on excessively violent videos, Facebook has made another U-turn and taken down a beheading video that has been circulated on the social network.

Facebook had issued a temporary ban on videos depicting decapitation in May after the Family Online Safety Institute, which is part of its Safety Advisory Board, said the videos "crossed a line".

However, on Monday, Facebook said it was reversing the decision on the grounds that people use the social network to expose and condemn "controversial events on the ground, such as human rights abuses, acts of terrorism and other violent events".

Now, following a barrage of criticism, including from UK Prime Minister, Facebook has said it is "strengthening" the enforcement of its policies. It has now removed a video that shows a women being beheaded by a Mexican drug cartel that is at the centre of the controversy.

"People turn to Facebook to share their experiences and to raise awareness about issues important to them," it said in a statement.

"Sometimes, those experiences and issues involve graphic content that is of public interest or concern, such as human rights abuses, acts of terrorism, and other violence.

"When people share this type of graphic content, it is often to condemn it. If it is being shared for sadistic pleasure or to celebrate violence, Facebook removes it."

"Going forward, we ask that people who share graphic content for the purpose of condemning it do so in a responsible manner, carefully selecting their audience and warning them about the nature of the content so they can make an informed choice about it," it added.

The company has in the past been criticised for allowing depictions of violence but not nudity. Bare breasts, accept in images of breast feeding, are not allowed.

On its standards page, Facebook says: "We remove content and may escalate to law enforcement when we perceive a genuine risk of physical harm, or a direct threat to public safety.

"Organisations with a record of terrorist or violent criminal activity are not allowed to maintain a presence on our site."