Facebook does about-face after blocking historic photo of nude Vietnamese girl

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Facebook, after a widespread backlash on its decision to disallow the famous image from the Vietnam War showing a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack, has reversed course.

The social-media giant had deleted a post by a Norwegian writer that included the 1972 Pulitzer-winning photo by the AP's Nick Ut. The iconic image, "The Terror of War," shows children – including the naked 9-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc – running away from a napalm attack during the Vietnam conflict.

Facebook originally defended the action, saying the image violated its community standards because it showed a nude child. But after the controversy spawned a hashtag Friday on Twitter, #napalmgirl, with numerous outraged commenters accusing Facebook of censorship, Facebook decided to make an exception.

"An image of a naked child would normally be presumed to violate our Community Standards, and in some countries might even qualify as child pornography," a Facebook rep said in a statement.

See photos of Kim Phuc, who is known as 'napalm girl'

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Kim Phuc, Napalm Girl
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Kim Phuc, Napalm Girl
Kim Phuc stands by a window in Buena Park, Calif., Saturday, June 2, 2012. It only took a second for Associated Press photographer Nick Ut to snap the iconic black-and-white image of Phuc after a napalm attack in 1972. The image communicated the horrors of the Vietnam War in a way words could never describe, but beneath the photo lies a lesser-known story. It's the tale of a dying child brought together by chance with a young photographer. A moment captured in the chaos of war that would serve as both her savior and her curse on a journey to understand life's plan for her. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kim Phuc Phan Thi, the subject of a Pulitzer-Prize winning Vietnam War-era photo as a child, speaks to students at Westridge School in Pasadena, Calif., Wednesday Oct. 22, 2014, about her life and the power of forgiveness. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Kim Phuc praises Associated Press photographer Nick Ut during a speech at Liberty Baptist Church in Newport Beach, Calif., Sunday, June 3, 2012. Ut's iconic black-and-white image of Phuc after a napalm attack in 1972 communicated the horrors of the Vietnam War in a way words could never describe. But beneath the photo lies a lesser-known story of a dying child brought together by chance with a young photographer. A moment captured in the chaos of war that would serve as both her savior and her curse on a journey to understand life's plan for her. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Phan Thi Kim Phuc, left, and Associated Press staff photographer Nick Ut stand together at Liberty Baptist Church in Newport Beach, Calif., Sunday, June 3, 2012. It only took a second for Associated Press photographer Nick Ut to snap the iconic black-and-white image of her after a napalm attack in 1972. It communicated the horrors of the Vietnam War in a way words could never describe, helping to end one of America's darkest eras. But beneath the photo lies a lesser-known story. It's the tale of a dying child brought together by chance with a young photographer. A moment captured in the chaos of war that would serve as both her savior and her curse on a journey to understand life's plan for her. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Kim Phuc, left, and Associated Press staff photographer Nick Ut stand together for a photo during a reunion in Buena Park, Calif., Saturday, June 2, 2012. Ut's iconic black-and-white image of Phuc after a napalm attack in 1972 communicated the horrors of the Vietnam War in a way words could never describe. But beneath the photo lies a lesser-known story of a dying child brought together by chance with a young photographer. A moment captured in the chaos of war that would serve as both her savior and her curse on a journey to understand life's plan for her. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Vietnam war survivor Kim Phuc gestures during a presentation at the Liberty Baptist Church in Newport Beach, Calif., Sunday, July 15, 2007. Phuc is best known as the subject of a 1972 photograph of a naked girl running down a road screaming in pain after a napalm attack during the Vietnam war. The photo was taken by Nick Ut. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
FILE - In this May 25, 1997 file photo, Phan Thi Kim Phuc holds her son Thomas, 3, in their apartment in Toronto. Her husband, Bui Huy Toan is at left. Kim Phuc's left arm shows evidence of the burns she suffered on June 8, 1972, when her village in Vietnam was hit by napalm bombs dropped by South Vietnamese warplanes acting on U.S. orders. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
FILE- In this Sunday, June 1,1997, file photo, Phan Thanh Tung, 72 and his wife Du Ngoc Nu, 66, parents of Kim Phuc, hold a photo of their daughter on the road on which it was taken, National Highway RT. 1, 50 kilometers (32 miles) west of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The Pulitzer prize photo taken by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut in 1972, shows Kim Phuc running down the road after her village was attacked and bombed by nalpam. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
FILE - In this June 8, 1992 file photo, Phan Thi Kim Phuc, left, watches television as her husband, Bui Huy Toan, plays with their son Thomas, 3, in their apartment in Toronto. Phuc, who was the main subject in Associated Press photographer Nick Ut's iconic image of the aftermath of a June 8, 1972 napalm attack in Vietnam, was granted political asylum in Canada in 1992. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
AP photographer Huynh Cong Ut takes a picture of Phan Thi Kim Phuc as she sits on a seawall in Havana in this August 1989 photo. The two were re-united for the first time since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Nick Ut had photographed Kim Phuc as she ran down a street in Vietnam, seriously burned by napalm after her village had been bombed June 8, 1972 (AP Photo/Jim Caccavo)
Nine-year-old Phan Tai Kim Phuc surveys the ruins of her home in Trang Bang, South Vietnam Nov. 10, 1972, five months after the village was destroyed by a misplaced napalm attack. (AP Photo)
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The spokeswoman added, "In this case, we recognize the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time.Because of its status as an iconic image of historical importance, the value of permitting sharing outweighs the value of protecting the community by removal, so we have decided to reinstate the image on Facebook where we are aware it has been removed."

According to Facebook, the company will adjust its review mechanisms to permit sharing of the image in the next few days. "We are always looking to improve our policies to make sure they both promote free expression and keep our community safe, and we will be engaging with publishers and other members of our global community on these important questions going forward," the company said.

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