LiveLeak, a video streaming site known for its toleration of gory and graphic videos, has announced that it will no longer host videos of beheadings carried out by Isis.
“We've shown the world the true horror of this form of execution more than once in the past and we cannot find any compelling reason to even be thought of as promoting the actions of this group,” said the site in an official statement.
They added that they would continue to allow users to upload other graphic videos –including beheadings; a mainstay of the site – but that they wanted to instead encourage “reports on these events and, perhaps more importantly, discussion.”
The news has surprised the internet community, especially given the website’s reputation for hosting nearly all forms of ‘snuff’ video that YouTube deems too graphic.
“Wow,” commented Reddit user NotMathMan821. “You know shit's bad when LiveLeak says something is fucked up.”
LiveLeak acknowledged this apparent hypocrisy on the site, telling the sites users: “We are still fully supportive of your right to view this media should you wish and many outlets will be only too happy to have you do so at their site.
“But our belief in your rights to view whatever you wish do not override our rights to not host it here on LiveLeak,” they added. Despite the site's reputation online as simply a host of 'shock' videos, in its official statements it styles itself as a home of "citizen journalists" and free speech.
Speaking to The Independent, LiveLeak co-founder Hayden Hewitt added that the footage hosted on the site often had a "rawness which presents the realities of these conflicts in a way sanitised media cannot," but that the Isis video was a "slick recruitment video [...] designed for dissemination on Western social media" and so did not deserve to be posted.
Mr Hewitt added that there had been "no outside pressure" to remove the video and that the alleged involvement of a UK citizen in the killing (LiveLeak is run from the UK but its servers are based in the US) had not come into their decision-making process.
Twitter has also banned accounts sharing graphic imagery relating to Foley's death, although propoganda from Isis and its supporters remain widespread on the site - often in seemingly banal and harmless forms.
LiveLeak’s owners compared the current situation in the Middle East with “the dark times of 2005/5 when beheadings happened with alarming and depressing regularity”.
During this period following the Iraq invasion there were many high-profile killings carried out by extremist groups and subsequently uploaded to the web. These included the beheading of British civil engineer Kenneth Bigley in October 2004 and American businessman Nicholas Berg in April that same year.
“Nothing changes about them,” said LiveLeak of the videos. “They're still relentlessly grim and no deeper insight will be offered by descending into some grotesque "beheading of the week" scenario."Reuse content