Expert Doubts Facebook Can Prevent Violent Posts

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The massive growth of live-streaming everything from Little League games to a giraffe’s birth has developed a sinister edge as murderers, rapists and terrorists have found ways to broadcast video that tech companies such as Facebook are struggling to contain, reports the Washington Post. Alleged Easter Sunday killer Steve W. Stephens of Cleveland posted a video of the shooting on his Facebook page, then took to the Facebook Live streaming service to confess his actions in real time. Facebook disabled Stephens’s profile page more than two hours after the initial posting, but not before the video of the shooting spread across the social network and to other social media, including YouTube and Instagram. It has been viewed more than 150,000 times.

Facebook said it was investigating why it took so long to receive reports of the video and was reviewing its procedures. Live video of violent incidents, including suicides, beheadings and torture, have gone viral, with some reaching millions of people. This summer, Facebook faced criticism after a live stream of a disabled young man being tied up, gagged and slashed with a knife was up for 30 minutes. Last month, two Chicago teenage boys live-streamed themselves gang-raping a teen girl. “Bound up with doing all of these terrible things is the possibility of showing thousands, possibly millions, of people that you’re doing it,” said Mary Anne Franks, a University of Miami law professor. She expressed doubt that Facebook could adequately monitor live videos. “When it comes to Facebook Live as a product specifically, I don’t think it’s a solvable problem,” she said. After Facebook launched live video streaming last year, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted a product that would support all the “personal and emotional and raw and visceral” ways that people communicate.

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