Last week’s controversy over Facebook’s removal of the iconic “Napalm Girl” photo, which shows a naked 9-year-old fleeing a napalm attack in Vietnam in 1972, evolved this week into a trans-Atlantic back-and-forth between Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg, whose account was caught up in Facebook’s effort to censor the photo. A Norwegian newspaper recirculated the picture in a story it posted about war photography, and Solberg shared it on her page. When Facebook deleted the post from Solberg’s account, the conservative PM accused the social network of editing history. (Facebook later reinstated the photo across its site.)
Sandberg sought to smooth things over by sending a letter to Solberg, in which she admitted that “screening millions of posts on a case-by-case basis every week is challenging.” She said Facebook doesn’t always get it right and that it “intends to do better.” Sandberg said the letter, which Reuters uncovered with Norway’s freedom of information rules, signified “how seriously we take this matter and how we are handling it.”
Solberg, who was elected in 2013, welcomed Sandberg’s letter on Tuesday, calling it “humble,” and saying that she wanted to work with Facebook to promote education. She and Sandberg met in Davos last year and, at the time, they talked about ways Facebook could help train teachers and ensure schooling in war zones. But it’s worth noting that there’s also a financial relationship at play in this high-powered make-nice. Through its sovereign wealth fund, Norway has a 0.52% stake in Facebook, which was worth some $1.54 billion at the beginning of this year.