Facebook has defended its decision not to remove a "disturbing" video of a baby being dunked in water this morning.
The BBC reported that the tone of the woman holding the baby's voice suggests that "this is someone playing with the child rather than an angry adult setting out to punish the infant, however misguided her actions may be".
Claire Lilley, the NSPCC's lead on child safety, told Radio 4 that the video was indicative of a broader problem. "This is not an isolated incident," she said. "This is one example of content which many people find disturbing and distressing and yet is freely available to see."
Lilley said: "The baby is flung about in a very violent way which could cause serious damage to its brain and its limbs. We just don't think its appropriate for that to be so easily viewable."
She also dismissed claims that the video depicts "baby yoga". The controversial childrearing technique last generated significant headlines three years ago, when a Russian practitioner named Lena Fokina posted videos of her flipping babies over her head to YouTube. The site removed the videos, but Fokina remained resolute in her belief that it was beneficial for the babies.
One of her techniques involved "water rebirthing" – in which the babies' heads were repeatedly dunked underwater. The practice, the Daily Mail reported, was "designed to address 'repressed trauma from birth.'"
Simon Milner, director of policy at Facebook UK, told Radio 4 the video was "disturbing and distressing", but that it would only be taken down when users were seen to be praising or mocking it – Facebook would allow the video when users condemned it or used it to raise awareness.
Facebook has "seen from experience that it can and does lead to the rescue of the child", he said, adding that the social network had "been in contact with the authorities" about the video.
As a result of the video, the NSPCC has now written to the government.
The charity wrote:
In recent weeks the NSPCC has received complaints about other images posted on Facebook which apparently showed the blanket-covered corpse of a baby lying in a pool of blood and a woman hitting a boy with a stick and kicking him.
The NSPCC believes we have now reached the long overdue point where it is time for social networking sites to be held to account for the content on their sites and pay more attention to their safeguarding duties to protect children and young people, whether they are viewing the content or appearing in it.
Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alan White at email@example.com.
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