Facebook’s chief operating officer has apologised to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg for deleting a photograph from its pages and conceded that “we don’t always get it right”.
Sheryl Sandberg said in a letter to Solberg that she had raised important issues about Facebook’s decision to remove postings of an iconic 1972 image of a naked, screaming girl running from a napalm attack in Vietnam.
On Friday, following protests in Norway, the tech giant reversed its decision and allowed the photo Terror of War to be seen on its pages.
In a letter, Sandberg conceded that historical importance “sometimes … outweighs the importance of keeping nudity off Facebook”, after Solberg had reposted the 1972 image and other iconic photos with black boxes covering parts of the images.
The photograph by Nick Ut of the impact of a napalm attack by America on Vietnam in 1972 has been credited by some as helping to bring forward the end of the convict.
Ut told Press Gazette in 2012: “After the picture appeared right away I met so many American soldiers who said ‘I’m going home because your picture stopped the war’. I still meet people who thank me and say ‘I never went to Vietnam because your picture stopped the war’.”
Asked how foreign reporting has changed in the last 40 years, Ut said: “In the Vietnam war you could go anywhere you wanted. After the picture of napalm girl and other pictures you don’t have any freedom to cover war any more. They control the media a lot more now. They don’t want more pictures like napalm girl.
“In Iraq and Afghanistan it’s very different. That’s why I don’t want to go to another war.”
Ut took nine-year-old Kim Phuc to hospital and may well have saved her life.
The pair have remained in touch.