Norway's PM attacks Facebook 'censorship' over Vietnam photo

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OSLO, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Norway's prime minister joined a campaign by a Norwegian newspaper on Friday accusing Facebook Inc of undue censorship by barring a Vietnam War era news photograph showing a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack.

The social media giant erased the iconic photograph, showing children running from a bombed village, from the Facebook pages of several Norwegian authors and media outlets, including top-selling newspaper Aftenposten.

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Captured in 1972 by Pulitzer Prize-winner Nick Ut of the Associated Press, the image of screaming children running from a napalm attack shows a naked nine-year-old girl at its center.

Aftenposten splashed the photograph across the front page of its newspaper on Friday, next to a large Facebook logo, and wrote a front-page editorial headlined "Dear Mark Zuckerberg," arguing that the network was undermining democracy.

Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg then posted the photograph on her own Facebook profile, writing that it had contributed to change the course of world history. The image later disappeared from the page.

"Facebook gets it wrong when they censor such pictures. It limits the freedom of speech," Solberg wrote. "I say yes to healthy, open and free debate - online and wherever else we go. But I say no to this form of censorship."

RELATED: See Ut's other photos from Vietnam

Nick Ut Vietnam photos
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Nick Ut Vietnam photos
South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places on June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The children from left to right are: Phan Thanh Tam, younger brother of Kim Phuc, who lost an eye, Phan Thanh Phouc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Kim's cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Anguished Vietnamese man carries napalm-burned female down Route One, moments after a misplaced napalm bomb strike injured and killed a score of civilians and soldiers, June 8, 1972. Vietnamese troops were fighting two battalions of North Vietnamese troops on Route One at the outskirts of Trang Bang, 25 miles northwest of Saigon. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A South Vietnamese soldier moves through battlefield debris in the Saigon area in early 1968, during the Tet Offensive. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
South Vietnamese forces fire on enemy positions in the Saigon area in early 1968, during the Tet Offensive. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
The body of a man lies beside a road in the Saigon area in early 1968, during the Tet Offensive. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
South Vietnamese troops hold a position in the Saigon area in early 1968, during the Tet Offensive. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Journalists photograph a body in the Saigon area in early 1968, during the Tet Offensive. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A Vietnamese soldier crosses a fence along with an American and South Vietnamese civilians during the evacuation of Saigon, Vietnam on Tuesday, April 29, 1975. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A critically wounded South Vietnamese soldier is carried to an aid station following a battle in the Northern Mekong Delta town of Thu Thua, Long An Province in Vietnam on Friday, April 11, 1975. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A South Vietnamese farmer drives his mini tractor under a barded wire barrier as he and thousands of others flee fighting in the Xuan Loc area, east of Saigon on Thursday, April 10, 1975. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Rifle fire is poured into a house in Thu Thua by South Vietnamese field force as it seeks suspected Viet Cong in the building on April 11, 1975. The body of a Viet Cong was later found after a grenade had been tossed into the building. (AP Photo/ Nick Ut)
Weary and hungry, a refugee family rests at Tuy Hoa Airfield in Vietnam on March 27, 1975 following their arrival. They were among the thousands of civilians and military who fled the central Highlands provinces. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
White smoke from artillery fire billows from suspected Viet Cong position along the barricaded route 1, east of Saigon on Tuesday, April 15, 1975. Fighting swirled along the edges of the city as the Saigon command claimed a large number of North Vietnamese troops were killed. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A daughter of South Vietnamese army sergeant Nguyen Bao Toan pauses to look back at her father's grave in a military cemetery at Bien Hoa, July 3, 1973. Toan was one of 26 men killed and 50 wounded in a post cease fire ambush by Viet Cong South of Saigon. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Bandaged and bloody, a South Vietnamese casualty of fighting near Kien Duc district town pauses for a smoke at an aide station in Quang Duc province, Dec. 8, 1973. Government forces retook the town 90 miles northeast of Saigon on Friday after losing it to North Vietnamese troops backed by tanks earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A young South Vietnamese soldier smokes a cigarette during fighting at Highway 13 north of Saigon on Oct. 29, 1972. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
South Vietnamese Army medics treat Associated Press photographer Huynh Cong "Nick" Ut after he was wounded by mortar fire while covering action in Trang Bang, 25 miles northwest of Saigon, Oct. 26, 1972. (AP Photo)
South Vietnamese parents with their five children ride along Highway 13, fleeing southwards from An Loc toward Saigon on June 19, 1972. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A Vietnamese grandmother carries her severely burned one-year-old grandson down Route One after a misdirected napalm attack by South Vietnamese pilots in the village of Trang Bang, South Vietnam, June 8, 1972. The napalm attack was intended for enemy forces on the outskirts of the village. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Black smoke from napalm bomb strikes rises over the roofs of the Cao Dai church at Trang Bang, 25 miles NW of Saigon, South Vietnam on June 8, 1972. Two NVA battalions have invaded the suburbs of this district town and disrupted traffic on the road to Saigon. The Cao Dai sect controls much of the people in the region. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A Vietnamese woman and her son run down Route 13 in South Vietnam after escaping through enemy-held lines near the city of An Loc on June 2, 1972. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A Vietnamese man and woman carry severely burned children down Route One after a misdirected napalm attack by South Vietnamese pilots in the village of Trang Bang, South Vietnam June 8, 1972. The aerial attack was intended for enemy forces on the outskirts of the village. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
FILE - In this June 8, 1972 file photo taken by Associated Press photographer Huynh Cong "Nick" Ut, a Skyraider, a propeller driven plane of the Vietnamese Airforce (VNAF) 518th Squadron, drops one bomb with incendiary napalm and white phosphorus jelly over Trang Bang village. It only took a second for Ut to snap the iconic black-and-white image of 9-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc, one of the victims of the napalm attack in 1972, but it communicated the horrors of the Vietnam War in a way words could never describe, helping to end one of America's darkest eras. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
Two Vietnamese civilians rest, about 8 miles south of An Loc in Vietnam on June 2, 1972, after they made their way through the North Vietnamese lines. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Refugees who passed through North Vietnamese lines on their flight from An Loc rest in roadside ditch about 8 miles south of the besieged provincial capital on June 2, 1972. Visible in background is smoke from South Vietnamese and U.S. Air strikes. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
U.S. Adviser Lt. Col. Burr M. Willey of Ayer, Mass., fired his rifle as he moved up Route 13 with a South Vietnamese army unit toward an Loc, besieged provincial capital north of Saigon. In this scene in Vietnam, May 19, 1972, Willey was followed by his faithful dog Moose and South Vietnamese troops. On June 19, the colonel and his dog were killed during a rocket attack in the area along Route 13. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Solberg in her posting also praised Facebook for combating pictures of child abuse. Aftenposten, in its editorial, said Facebook should be able to tell the difference between child pornography and famous war photography.

Facebook said in a statement its rules were more blunt than the company itself would prefer, adding that restrictions on nudity were necessary on a global platform.

"While we recognize that this photo is iconic, it's difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others," a company spokesperson wrote.

"We try to find the right balance between enabling people to express themselves while maintaining a safe and respectful experience for our global community. Our solutions won't always be perfect, but we will continue to try to improve our policies and the ways in which we apply them."

In May, Solberg was present when Facebook opened its first Norwegian office.

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