By Matt Payne
A 37-year-old man in Cleveland who has proclaimed to have snapped from his ex-girlfriend’s behavior livestreamed himself slaughtering an elderly, innocent pedestrian Sunday afternoon in Cleveland.
That’s undoubtedly unwholesome material for a public forum.
Implications from this criminal gesture expose a great risk to today’s most recent trend on social media: live video. A completely unsuspecting friend group received a notification that Steve Stephens had gone live on Facebook, only to encounter a series of personal lamentations that have allegedly led to more than a dozen dead from point-blank shootings.
“It’s not clear whether Facebook acted on its own to remove the posts, or reacted to requests from local law enforcement officials to take them down,” The Verge reported Sunday evening. What’s disturbing in that tidbit about the situation is the apparent complacency or obliviousness exposed from Facebook behind the scenes.
Live video can have its many advantages, such as documenting what’s happening in the world in real time, but an uncensored slaying from one user’s rage poses a serious threat to the site’s integrity.
Real-life risks even slither into situations where Facebook Live shines. USA Today addressed this problem in February when two journalists on assignment were killed in the Dominican Republic while livestreaming. While this doesn’t involve a criminal abusing livestreaming, it underscores how a social media outlet that’s virtually impossible to censor can endanger and toxify the internet.
Facebook must address the lack of prompt response in removing the user from social media and his illegal content. This may involve a specialized staff dedicated to around-the-clock moderation, delays in streaming or other solutions. But disturbing content that leaks through the cracks profoundly darkens citizen journalism.
Featured Image: Facebook Live’s interface, courtesy