A live, 10-minute video of the aftermath of a police officer shooting a black man in Minnesota was the latest example of the riveting power of video streaming and the complex ethical and policy issues it raises for Facebook Live and similar features, says Reuters. Facebook this year has made its Live feature, which allows anyone to broadcast a video directly from their smartphone, a central component of its growth strategy. Rivals Twitter and YouTube are also pushing live video as a new frontier in Internet content.
While traditional TV broadcasters are subject to “decency” standards overseen by the Federal Communications Commission – and have a short delay in their broadcasts to allow them to cut away from violent or obscene images – Internet streaming services have no such limitations. That easy accessibility and openness are fostering a new type of intimate, personal broadcasting that proponents said can be extraordinarily powerful. But critics said the lack of regulation can allow exploitation of tragedy. Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center says, “The availability of a live broadcast, unencumbered, becomes a horrendous tool in the hands of a terrorist.”