THE BLOG
24/10/2013 05:51 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Which Is Worse on Facebook: Beheadings or Boobs?

This week saw a flurry of discussion around Facebook's latest change to terms of service. It decided to reverse its earlier ban on the sharing of beheading videos.

I spoke on several news shows about the change. When I heard about this policy change, the first thing I thought of was the last time a policy caused a stir among the social influencers who make up BritMums' membership. Several members had breastfeeding photos removed - no naked nursing breasts allowed.

So on the question of beheadings or boobs on Facebook, beheadings "win"?

But they shouldn't.

The best place for us to be learn more about these atrocities is on news sites or blogs, where this kind of content is surrounded by commentary, background reporting and context that helps our understanding of it. Is what we're seeing real or a hoax? Who is the source of the video? In what context has it been made? And what is the response of the family of the person featured?

On Facebook, you don't have to seek to engage with this type of content. A disturbing video of someone getting their head chopped off can show up unbidden in your feed simply because someone you follow has shared it - right next to the shared pictures and stories of friends, family and cuddly pets and possibly accompanied with 'likes' and cursory comments such as "this is horrifying - check it out".

As adults, we're more likely to have the experience to decide - before clicking - whether we want to see this type of violent content. We're more likely to know we don't have to actually see the video to understand how abhorrent an act it is.

Children 13 and over (ie those Facebook allows to have accounts) are less likely to be cautious, less likely to understand what they're seeing and more likely to find it frightening and confusing. They'll click first, think later.

That's not just a problem for parents. It's an issue for all of us who believe that brutal decapitations and extreme violence should remain rare sights.

These videos are shocking. They are disturbing. We shouldn't shrink from discussing them. But they should be remain the type of content we want to see less of, not more.