Facebook is currently facing new questions about its policies for live video content following a live stream in the moments after Philando Castile was shot in Minnesota. Castile was killed by police during a traffic stop and the video which was taken by Castile’s girlfriend shows his blood-stained body in the moments after the shooting.
Originally the video was removed for an hour and then resurfaced with a graphic content warning. Facebook says that it was a technical glitch and that the video was restored as soon as possible. Questions are now being raised as to what Facebook’s policies are regarding content of this nature.
Many people may not realise it, but photos and videos which depict violence are not actually banned on Facebook – even if it is extremely graphic content. Guidelines do prohibit “photos and videos that glorify violence or attack an individual or group.”
The video has been spread widely across social media and on TV. It has been viewed millions of times on Facebook and has been shown on multiple news outlets on TV. More and more people are getting their news through social media with more than 81% of Americans following news primarily online.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday that videos such as Castile’s shooting “shine a light” on societal issues:
“While I hope we never have to see another video like Diamond’s, it reminds us why coming together to build a more open and connected world is so important — and how far we still have to go.”
People will have varying opinions about the video that was taken by Castile’s girlfriend as he was tragically dying. Different people will react in different ways, it is not for us to judge or pass comments on how people act in these kinds of situations.
However, what we did see last week is just how powerful the set of tools in our pocket has become. The rise of smartphones, live streaming and social media has provided people with new powerful tools and helps them access the world faster than ever before.
At the moment, when a video showing graphic violent content goes viral on Facebook, it is always likely that someone will report it. One report is enough to trigger a review and then it is up to whoever sees the report to decide what action should be taken.
It is also not uncommon for Facebook to take content offline, review it and then restore it with a warning which is what could have happened to this video when it briefly vanished for an hour.
Facebook has been making big investments in video recently, Facebook wants video to be as accessible as possible and as widely viewed as possible. However, with different types of content that can also provide complications down the line.
The social network now has the difficult job of handling real-time violence on its live streaming platform while still allowing freedom of expression and content.