Facebook Live or Facebook Dead?

The Consequences of Live Streaming on Facebook

Jada Lecce, Head Writer

August 5th; the day Facebook took another step to spread the reaches of their social media monopoly. Facebook Live is the newest way to stream videos from your smartphone, computer, laptop, or tablet. At first glance, it might seem pretty cool, like watching a concert as it happens, observing a wedding from across seas, or getting instant updates on your friends and family without having to read a monster sized status update. After the shiny new toy started to get old though, the darker possibilities of live streaming on such a popular social media site started to arise. Although they have a report button for scarring, traumatizing, humiliating, or illegal videos, often the damage is already done. There is absolutely nothing that anyone can do to censor the video as it happens. There isn’t even anything the owners of Facebook can do until after the potentially horrifying events have already taken place.

Everyone has probably already heard the horror stories by now. Girl hangs herself on Facebook Live; four men accidentally film their own shooting on Facebook Live; three men rape a woman for hours on Facebook Live; man films his own death via wingsuit on Facebook Live; woman goes on a rant about Spanish privileges on Facebook Live and is charged with a hate crime; boy with learning disabilities is kidnapped and tortured by his peers… on Facebook Live. The list goes on. There are three similarities between all of these occurrences. They are all morally wrong, they are all terribly startling to the viewers, and they are all caught on Facebook Live.

Live-streaming isn’t an all too new concept on the World Wide Web. Sites like Twitch have allowed people to live-stream video games for years, and about 2 million people have viewed live-streams of NFL football games via Twitter. Facebook Live is such a recent development, and yet it has had more deeply disturbing disasters than all of the other live streaming sites combined. At first it may appear to be just another tool for the more disturbed members of society, but many of the incidents are completely accidental. For example, the wingsuiter did not intend to die while he was using Facebook Live to film the experience. It was simply a rather unfortunate occurrence in a very dangerous activity.

As for what can be done about the horrific events, the options are limited. Unfortunately, there is nothing the owners of Facebook can do to prevent Facebook Live from being used in an inappropriate way, but there are ways they can deal with the aftermath. The obvious choice would seem to be deleting the video as soon as possible, but the video of the girl committing suicide was not taken down off her page for two weeks. So that right there is one aspect that can be improved upon; deleting the disturbing videos immediately after the event has occurred. “We understand the unique challenges of live video,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an interview. “We have a team on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, dedicated to responding to these reports immediately.” So now, at least, they have a team on the lookout for particularly graphic or disturbing videos, but there is much speculation as to why their reactions to viewer’s reports are so slow. Perhaps there are too many reports in one day for the team to keep up with.

As for what the founders of Facebook have to say about these disastrous Facebook Live feeds, is unknown as of now as none of them have stepped forward to speak about the occurrences themselves. One thing is for sure, the idea to turn off Facebook Live has not even been considered, so there is the possibility that videos such as these will continue to come in and disturb their viewers, or there is the hope that Facebook will find a way to prevent such videos from streaming. For the time being, it is suggested that Facebook users be wary as to what live-streams they choose to view, and be ready to hit that report video as soon as something may seem amiss.

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