After Facebook Streamed Murder in Cleveland, Call for Social Media Changes

April 17, 2017 9:34 am
Suspect Steve Stephens (Facebook)
Suspect Steve Stephens (Facebook)

After a man uploaded video of himself apparently murdering an innocent bystander in Cleveland, Ohio, one Wired columnist is arguing that social media giant Facebook take accountability for providing a platform for the snuff footage to be uploaded onto.

Cleveland Police have identified Steve Stephens as the suspect in the recorded shooting, which occurred and was uploaded to Facebook on Easter Sunday. A massive multi-state manhunt is currently underway to find him after the fatal shooting of 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr.


“Currently, Facebook relies on other Facebook users to flag videos that need to be taken down. But that means that someone has to watch the horror before others can be spared it,” Emily Dreyfuss writes for Wired. “The onus falls to the viewers, not the company, to determine what is appropriate, what should be shared, and what should be flagged for removal.”

This is at odds with traditional media companies, Dreyfuss points out, which have outlined guidelines and policies to help make decisions about what should and shouldn’t be made available to the public. When news anchor Christine Chubbuck killed herself on live TV in 1974, the station was unable to stop the event from airing, Drewfuss notes, but the actual number of people who saw the event was minimal. The station never broadcast the tape again.

Technology has obviously evolved since then—although Facebook pulled the video from the platform and released a statement condemning the act just a few hours after it was posted, the recording still lives on in various corners of the Internet.

“The entire video is 57 seconds long. Less than a minute: That’s all it takes to broadcast a cold-blooded homicide to thousands of people around the world. And all it takes to raise questions about the limits and responsibilities of a platform that has pledged to reflect humanity in its purest form,” Dreyfuss continues, saying: “Now it might very well be time for the company to roll up its own sleeves and get to work.”

Read the full Facebook Live column here.


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