Facebook has reversed its controversial decision to ban a photograph of a four-year-old girl planting flowers, blaming human error. The move follows a backlash among photographers online.


Picture credit: Penny Halsall

Yesterday, Amateur Photographer reported how photographer Penny Halsall was left distraught by Facebook’s removal of the portrait of her daughter Daisy.

The image had won plaudits in the Amateur Photographer of the Year competition, but was removed from the Amateur Photographer (AP) Facebook page on Sunday 27 July on grounds that it breached Facebook’s rules on nudity.

Facebook’s UK office today told AP that the image was removed in error by a member of its community standards team, who misinterpreted Facebook’s guidelines.

Facebook refused to comment on the specifics surrounding the case, claiming that such a mistake is a rarity.

Neither would the social networking site say whether removal of the photo followed a complaint from a Facebook user, nor whether the mistake to take down the image was made in the UK.

Facebook claims that the photo will not be removed again if it is reposted on the site.

The US-based company has not issued an apology.

‘Relief’ for photographer

Penny Halsall today said she was ‘extremely happy and relieved’ to learn that a mistake had been made.

‘When my photo was removed I was very disappointed, but also rather confused.

‘When you have to put your own judgement under the microscope you start to question your actions.

‘In this case, I was able to resolve this with myself quite easily.

‘However, I was very happy to find out that, after re-examining this case, Facebook felt the same way.

‘The picture was composed to reflect childhood, summer and the simple things that give children pleasure.’


Facebook removed the portrait on 27 July, saying it did not follow the site’s ‘community standards’

Online backlash

Many photographers turned to the internet to express their horror at Facebook’s original decision to remove the photo.

Amateur Photographer website forum member ‘grove39′ was among those to condemn Facebook for its decision, calling on the site to ‘get its priorities right’.

Facebook user Nikki Lewis added: ‘This photograph wasn’t offensive in any way. It’s a great shot and you should be very proud, Penny.’

Ollie Barwick-Parkinson described the portrait as ‘stunning’, adding that it is ‘such a shame we live in a messed-up society that would take offence’.

AP posted the image to its Facebook page on 24 July.

Facebook removed the post three days later.

The black and white shot – entitled ‘By the Sun and the Moon’ – depicts Daisy planting seeds and flowers in an alley behind her home in Oxfordshire.

It won fourth place in Round Four of Amateur Photographer of the Year, a competition that focused on portraits taken in natural light.

The photographer added: ‘It’s good to know that Facebook and other social media screen their content and take complaints seriously.’

Facebook monitoring team

Facebook told AP that it has a large community operations team.

The firm declined to say exactly how many staff are dedicated to policing its guidelines, only stating that they number more than 10 and are based in a number of locations worldwide.

It admits that staff have to tread a fine line around the guidelines.

Around 350 million images are uploaded to Facebook every day.

ORIGINAL STORY