In one image posted to her Facebook fan page entitled ‘Kendall Takes Wild,’ 19-year-old Texas Tech cheerleader Kendall Jones squats behind a slain African lion with a toothy grin. Her bow-and-arrow set, ornamented with white and pink trim, lies across the lifeless animal’s chest.
The chilling shot is just one of several that ignited an internet firestorm among animal rights activists and outraged Facebook commenters last week.
Portraits of Jones posing cheerfully alongside elephants, leopards and hippopotamuses she gunned down during a hunting safari in Zimbabwe even led to a petition -- which currently boasts over 329,000 signatures -- demanding that Facebook remove the shocking images.
And now, Facebook has done just that. However, its decision to delete some of the shots was not in response to public outcry, the company told Entrepreneur.com, but in keeping with its long-held community standards. These standards specifically state that “graphic images shared for sadistic effect or to celebrate or glorify violence have no place on our site.”
“We remove reported content that promotes poaching of endangered species, the sale of animals for organized fight or content that includes extreme acts of animal abuse,” a Facebook spokesperson added.
In the past, such acts of censorship -- and lack thereof -- have led Facebook into thorny territory, like when it permitted (and then subsequently removed) posts showcasing brutal beheadings and dogfights.
Once abusive content has been reported, however, the decision about whether to permit it or remove it is ultimately made by a team that seeks to draw an objective line between posts that aim to condemn violent atrocities versus those that aim to celebrate it, the company said.
“It’s all about making sure that people can share what’s important to them and even expose unjust acts of violence while still making sure that Facebook is a safe and secure place,” a spokesperson clarified.
In her own defense, Jones says that her hunting hobby actually marks a conservation effort. On ‘Kendall Takes Wild,’ for instance, which currently boasts half a million likes, Jones acknowledges that the lion she shot down with her bow-and-arrow happened to dwell within a fenced-in area.
“Controlling the male lion population is important within large fenced areas like these in order to make sure the cubs have a high survival rate,” she explained. “Funds from a hunt like this go partially to the government for permits but also to the farm owner as an incentive to keep and raise lions on their property.”