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Facebook: why we deleted cheerleader's hunting pics

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Chris Taylor

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Kendall Jones posing with a leopard -- one of her Facebook photos removed this weekend.

Kendall Jones posing with a leopard -- one of her Facebook photos removed this weekend. Photo: Kendall Jones, Facebook

This post was originally published on Mashable.

Facebook came under fire from hunting advocates and gun rights supporters this weekend when it removed a series of pictures from the account of Kendall Jones, a Texas cheerleader. Jones' pictures showed her posing with a variety of animals she had shot earlier this month on safari in Zimbabwe, such as the leopard, above.

It was widely assumed that the pictures were removed in response to widespread outcry from animal rights groups over Jones' trophy snapshots. But that's not the case, the social network has said — the pictures simply violated Facebook's terms of service.

Specifically, the pictures were deemed to break a rule about "graphic images shared for sadistic effect or to celebrate or glorify violence," as outlined in this page on Facebook Community Standards.

"We remove reported content that promotes poaching of endangered species, the sale of animals for organised fight or content that includes extreme acts of animal abuse," a Facebook spokesperson said.

"The number of reports does not influence whether a piece of content is removed," the spokesperson added. (So much for the 325,000 signatures on an online petition demanding Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg remove the pictures.)

Not all offensive pictures are automatically removed, the spokesperson added: "Certain content, which some may find offensive, can be used to spread awareness, and we welcome dialogue about animal abuse, hunting, and other animal rights issues."

One photo showing Jones next to an immobilised rhino has not been removed at time of writing.

Jones, a 19-year old cheerleader for the Texas Tech Red Raiders and star of an upcoming TV show on the Sportsman Channel, has taken to social media to argue that safari hunting is socially responsible, since the money it brings in helps conservation efforts.

That said, the white rhinoceros — Jones' first kill at the age of 13, according to her Facebook bio page — is still considered a "near threatened" species by conservation organisations.

And even if you accept the position that organised hunting has a positive economic impact on conservation, Jones has so far failed to make any case that claims a specific positive benefit from posting pictures of herself smiling over a dead animal.

If she does, Facebook will be listening.

Mashable is the largest independent news source covering digital culture, social media and technology.

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