Facebook have bowed to pressure and removed a video of a naked baby being flung around by its cheeks – despite them bizarrely defending it as “baby yoga” on Thursday.
It comes after Facebook came under fire from child abuse charities for refusing to remove a viral video showing a naked baby being swung by its limbs.
The video shows a crying baby being plunged into a bucket of water but while Facebook initially described it as “baby yoga”, pracitioners dismissed the suggestion and the NSPCC condemned it as child abuse.
After child abuse charities criticised Facebook’s reaction and called for them to remove the clip, after 24 hours the website has caved.
The NSPCC has called on the Government to make social media companies more proactive in preventing users posting inappropriate images or videos of children online.
Its letter to culture minister Ed Vaizey and internet safety minister Joanna Shields appealed to them to make sure people in the UK are “no longer exposed to this kind of dreadful and disturbing content”.
Claire Lilley, who leads Child Safety Online for the NSPCC, told BBC’s Radio 4 the baby could have suffered “serious damage” to its limbs.
Ms Lilley said: “What is one person’s baby yoga in one person’s context is child abuse in another person’s context.”
The two-minute long clip shows a chatting woman putting the screaming baby into water while swinging it around by its limbs – even hanging it upside down – before shaking it.
The baby then falls silent, prompting fears it has suffered brain damage or even died.
A spokesperson for Facebook initially said: “We do not allow child abuse on Facebook and any illegal content which is flagged to us is quickly removed.
“Whilst we understand that people may be upset by this video which depicts a form of baby yoga, after careful review we found it does not break our rules.”
Sylvie Russell, the executive manager for Birthlight, which runs baby yoga classes dismissed this suggestion. After watching the video she said: “It’s quite sickening – this is not baby yoga”.
She pointed out that baby yoga does not involve water and that the movements in the video were “quite abrupt”.
“We use gentle movements, it’s all about bonding between the mum and the baby and it is difficult to see any bond or love in the video,” she said.
She added: “We teach the mum how to hold the baby in a way that the baby is going to be calm and relaxed”.
At one point, the woman hangs the baby upside down high in the air by its legs, at another it swings it by holding its cheeks, before it stops crying.
The clip is thought to have originated in Indonesia and there has been some suggestion it shows ‘baby yoga’.
But Ms Russell said she said she had never seen anything of this kind in Indonesia, where Birthlight also trains yoga teachers.
The video has been shared thousands of times around the world but was reported to Facebook in the UK on Wednesday on the grounds of both ‘graphic violence’ and then ‘nudity’.
In an updated statement, Facebook said on Friday: “Like others, we find the behaviour in this video upsetting and disturbing.
“In cases like these, we face a difficult choice: balancing people’s desire to raise awareness of behaviour like this against the disturbing nature of the video.
“In this case, we are removing any reported instances of the video from Facebook that are shared supporting or encouraging this behaviour.
“In cases where people are raising awareness or condemning the practice, we are marking reported videos as disturbing, which means they have a warning screen and are accessible only to people over the age of 18.”
Gabrielle Shaw, CEO for the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said: “We are of course aware of free speech but surely this is an image of shocking abuse and we would look to Facebook to at the very least take this down and investigate.”
Facebook has previously come under fire for controversial videos. In 2013 it was criticised by Prime Minister David Cameron for not removing a clip showing a woman being decapitated.
Mr Cameron said: “It’s irresponsible of Facebook to post beheading videos, especially without a warning. They must explain their actions to worried parents,” in a tweet.
The clip was subsequently removed.
Lurleen Hilliard, founder of Nolonger Victims – a global charity campaigning against abuse – feared the baby was killed by the abuse in the video.
She said: “I’ve spoken to people with medical training and they said, when the baby goes quiet towards the end, it could have suffered something called hyperextension – the neck could have been stretched so much that the baby suffocated.
“You do not swing a baby. Shaking baby syndrome can happen if a baby is moved with even a little bit of force.”
Simon Milner, director of policy at Facebook in the UK, said these decisions are “very difficult” for the social network.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was appropriate for users to share the video to draw attention to the issue, “only if it is in the context of condemning it”.
He said such sharing online could help prevent abuse. “We have seen from experience that when things like that are shared on Facebook it can and does lead to the rescue of the child. We hope very much that this will happen in this case,” he said.
Source: The Telegraph