Swedish firefighter ‘not surprised’ Facebook twice pulled down photo of his severe burns
Facebook finds itself in another controversy this week after twice deleting a photo celebrating Lasse Gustavson, a Swedish firefighter who suffered severe burns to his face while on duty. He told RT that these policies could hurt recent burn victims.
Gustavson was 24 years old and working in his first week as a firefighter when he was left badly disfigured in a blast. He lost hair, skin, ears, and fingers, after being called in for a gas leak, which turned out to be sabotage.
It took the Swede two years to recover enough to be able to return to work.
Gustavson, who is now a motivational speaker, was celebrating his 60th birthday earlier in November, and his friend, Björn Natthiko Lindeblad, a meditation teacher also from Sweden, posted the firefighter’s photo on his page as a greeting.
The picture, however, was removed twice by Facebook without any explanation. The move prompted Lindeblad to launch a battle against Facebook in order to protect his friend.
“Would you like to help me protest against a despicable Facebook policy? Then please share and spread this photo of one of the most beautiful souls I know,” he wrote in a comment after re-posting Gustavson’s image to the site.
The initiative was backed by many users who began re-posting the firefighter’s photo.
It was shared over 30,000 times and got more than 26,000 reactions, forcing the US company to apologize.
“This post was removed in error. We have corrected the problem and notified the person who [posted] it to let them know and apologize,” Facebook wrote in an email response.
RT contacted Gustavson, who said that he “wasn’t totally surprised” by the removal of his picture, but added that he considered Facebook’s actions “not democratic.”
“For me, it’s no big deal,” the firefighter, who is now also a public figure and motivational speaker, said. He explained, however, that this type of situation “can hurt” recent burn victims who find the courage to put their photos online.
According to Gustavson, it is not the first instance in which Facebook censors people with burns.
“I’m also active in a group in Facebook, called Burning Spirits. And in this group, there are people with burns as myself. And I know that a year ago a member of this group, she had photos of her hands deleted,” he said.
Deleting posts has gotten Facebook in trouble on a number of occasions. One of the most famous pictures, censored by the network, is ‘Napalm Girl,’ which was taken down for breaking Facebook's restrictions on nudity.
A photo of the iconic Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen was also removed for showing too much bare skin.