Published 2016-09-09

Schibsted supports Aftenposten’s concern on Facebook censorship

Schibsted CEO Rolv Erik Ryssdal fully supports Aftenposten’s concern on Facebook suppressing news and the freedom of expression.

Today, Schibsted Media Group’s Norwegian media house Aftenposten dedicated the entire front page of the print newspaper to its editor-in-chief Espen Egil Hansen’s critique of Facebook gründer Mark Zuckerberg. “Dear Mark Zuckerberg” it says with big letters all over Aftenposten’s front page.

Schibsted Media Group shows unconditional support to Aftenposten’s concern:

«Independent media is the foundation for democracy. Therefore, it’s clear that we are very critical of Facebook trying to stop Aftenposten from publishing one of the most important photos of our time. It is not acceptable. Facebook’s censorship is an attack on the freedom of expression – and therefore on democracy. I, and the whole of Schibsted Media Group, give Aftenposten our full support on this case,” says CEO Rolv Erik Ryssdal.

“The newsrooms’ independence is sacred to us. Schibsted stands for independent journalism run by independent editors-in-chief,” Ryssdal says

“There are several aspects of Facebook’s position that we worry about. They are capturing more than NOK 1.5 billion from the Norwegian advertising market. Of this they pay – along with Google – only crumbs in taxes back to society. Schibsted Media Group believes it is very important that the Norwegian media industry now gather to create an independent alternative to the American giants’ enormous power in the advertising market. We are talking about the prerequisite for independent journalism. Facebook’s treatment of Aftenposten is another proof of the importance of this,” Ryssdal emphasizes.

Norway’s Prime Minister: Facebook is suppressing the freedom of expression

Aftenposten’s Facebook concern has caused considerable attention, both in Norway and abroad. Major international newspapers such as Time, The Guardian and Der Spiegel are among the media that reproduce Hansen’s worries about Facebook’s censorship and how it challenges the freedom of expression.  

Even the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has reacted to the censorship of the iconic Vietnam image on her own Facebook page, where she posted it this morning. Shortly after, her post was deleted by Facebook.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s Facebook post, which was deleted by Facebook shortly after.

“What we see here is a photo that has been part of forming the world history. A photo of a terrified child running away from war,” the Prime Minister said in her Facebook post.

“But Facebook is making a mistake when they censor such images. It contributes to suppressing the freedom of expression,” the Prime Minister continues.

Norway’s Minister of Culture, Linda Hofstad Helleland, has also posted the image on her Facebook page, praising Aftenposten for its initiative.

 “Those of us who are users of Facebook, either as private persons, politicians, media houses or advertisers, must put pressure on Facebook to make them be more open and create clearer guidelines,” Helleland says.

Helleland is keen to see the response to Aftenposten’s appeal to Mark Zuckerberg, and she extends an open invitation to Norwegian newspaper editors and Facebook to meet.