Yesterday morning, 4th May, BBC Radio 4 broadcast the most disturbing possible piece.
It was looking at the outright refusal of social networking site, Facebook, to take down violent videos on or linked from contributors posts.
What the programme referred to as ‘violent videos’ are very much worse than that.
It was looking at what are, or used to be, called ‘snuff’ videos – focusing on actual and obscenely violent killings. The world is full of dark places and lost people where such things can be done, recorded and transmitted with impunity.
The reporting team in yesterday morning’s Radio 4 broadcast were referring to, as examples, some specific videos which appear to be known and infamous just now.
The nature of one emerged from a discussion with a boy in his mid-teens.
He was asked if he had seen ‘this video’. He said he had.
Asked what he saw in it, he replied that: ‘the man began to cut the woman’s neck, starting at one side and going all the way round. Then he held up her head.’
The reporter said that this sort of thing is often faked. The boy said confidently that this one had not been faked, it was real. He regularly saw stuff like this and knew the exact differences between the real and the faked scenes. He asserted that this one was definitely real.
Asked how he had reacted to seeing such an action, he said – with clearly genuine nonchalance, that it hadn’t affected him much because he saw quite a lot of material like this and ‘I suppose I’m a bit desensitised.’
The reporter then spoke to a 14 year old girl who described one of these ‘snuff’ videos she had seen as showing a group of women beating and beating a 14 year old boy until he died – and that they cut him up before he died.
The girl said ‘I realised this was a 14 year old boy. I’m 14. I thought “I shouldn’t be seeing this”. ‘
Two 12 year old girls had seen the same video – they had turned it off quickly when they saw what was going on. They had cried and been distressed.
Had they told their parents? No. They would have got into trouble for wandering around Facebook.
They and the 14 year old girl had all opened the link to this video from a post by a ‘facebook famous’ contributor – someone who has amassed a very large audience and who is therefore very powerful as a distributor of material of any kind.
This video had been introduced by: ‘See this funny video ha ha ha.’
The young girls in particular said they had clicked it because they thought it was going to be a laugh.
Facebook apparently refuses to take down links to or direct postings of such material, using the ‘freedom of expression’ defence.
The young and the very young are clearly familiar with worlds that most of us adult innocents do not know exist and could not contemplate seeing.
For any child and young person, starting from nothing to build up their own banks of experience and knowledge, when they see the prevalence of material like this, with no ‘norms’ yet established, they can only assume that this is a normal part of the life they are growing in to.
What behaviours and psyches will these experiences and these ‘norms’ produce in our young folk – and as they mature?
We are already seeing serious sexual crimes by young people on young people – because they are steeped in hard core online porn. Inevitably they take this as what their seniors normally do and, in the eternal rush to be accepted as ‘a grown up’ or as ‘a man’, replicate themselves the scenarios they have witnessed online.
Add to this profoundly disturbing development the values and prompts that these young – and very young – people are absorbing from these ‘snuff’ videos on Facebook.
Consider the world to come as these young folk reach adulthood from such a beginning.
Please sign our petition here at Change.org, asking the UK Government to insist that Facebook removes access to these videos.
Please spread this request for help through your own networks and do what you can via saying something on your own Facebook page, if you have one.