Facebook is taking a quick clobbering from critics for permitting video of a beheading to appear on its platform. The British prime minister, among others, has denounced the move. Given its efforts to keep the social network pristine (no adult content, for example, and a recent ban on a breastfeeding video), Jonathan Freedland of The Guardian writes of its boundaries: "In Facebook's world, a beheading is OK but an exposed nipple is not." While it might be troublesome to its financial state to permit free expression, once it adopts "community standards" it has a challenge in drawing the line. In this instance, he argues, Facebook got it "spectacularly wrong." Facebook has committed to revisiting its approach. UPDATE: Late Tuesday it reversed its stance and took the video down.
Mistakes happen in journalism, but the punishment is typically a reprimand or a rather public embarrassment that comes with a correction. Not so this week at The Associated Press, where Huffington Post reports three employees have been fired for an erroneous report alleging that a Virginia gubernatorial candidate had lied to federal investigators.
Olga Khazan, writing for The Atlantic, dispels the notion that journalism schools should be teaching students how to write digital code. Journalists aren't necessarily any good at programming, she writes, and their precious learning time would be better spent learning how to write, edit and present. Leave the coding to the coders, she argues. It's nice if some of them want to be journalists, but journalists shouldn't be driven to be them.