Facebook Pledges to 'Do Better' After Posting of Murder Video

Facebook disabled the suspect's account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the murder video, but admitted that's not good enough.
Facebook Pledges to 'Do Better' After Posting of Murder Video
Image credit: JaysonPhotography / Shutterstock.com
  • ---Shares

Facebook on Monday promised to improve its review process after a man in Cleveland shot and killed an elderly individual and posted a video of the murder on the social network, along with Live video confessing to the crime.

"We know we need to do better," Facebook's Vice President of Global Operations Justin Osofsky wrote in a blog post.

 

Police are still searching for the suspect -- 37-year-old Steve Stephens -- who has been charged with aggravated murder of 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr.

The suspect on Sunday morning posted a video of himself on Facebook announcing his intent to commit murder. Two minutes later, the man posted a second video of himself shooting and killing Godwin Sr. He then went Live on Facebook, confessing to the murder.

"It was a horrific crime -- one that has no place on Facebook, and goes against our policies and everything we stand for," Facebook's Osofsky wrote. "As a result of this terrible series of events, we are reviewing our reporting flows to be sure people can report videos and other material that violates our standards as easily and quickly as possible."

Osofsky said Facebook didn't receive a report about the first video and only heard about the second video -- the one containing the shooting -- more than an hour and 45 minutes after it was posted. The company received reports about the third video -- containing the man's live confession -- after it ended.

Osofsky said Facebook disabled the suspect's account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the murder video, but admitted that's not good enough.

"In addition to improving our reporting flows, we are constantly exploring ways that new technologies can help us make sure Facebook is a safe environment," he wrote. "Artificial intelligence, for example, plays an important part in this work, helping us prevent the videos from being reshared in their entirety."

Facebook already prioritizes reposts with "serious safety implications," but Osofsky said the company is working to make the review process go faster.

"Keeping our global community safe is an important part of our mission," he added. "We are grateful to everyone who reported these videos and other offensive content to us."

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook has a team of contractors who monitor Live videos 24/7 for objectionable material; they are alerted automatically if a video gets a certain number of concurrent streams.

But the crime follows several disturbing incidents captured on Facebook Live, from shootings to sexual assault. The social network has also had to grapple with teens and tweens live streaming their own suicides; Facebook has since integrated its suicide prevention tools into Live, so if you're watching a broadcast and someone expresses suicidal thoughts, you can report the video and get the person help.

Last year's shooting of Philando Castile by a police officer during a traffic stop, meanwhile, forced Facebook to clarify its policy regarding live streams of graphic content. The video, made by Castile's girlfriend as he lay dying next to her in the car, was originally yanked from the social network but later reinstated. At the time, Facebook said it allows graphic content if it can "raise awareness or find [a] shooter," but something that mocks a victim or celebrates violence will be removed.

This issue is not unique to Facebook; a sexual assault was also broadcast on Twitter's Periscope last year, while a young girl broadcast her suicide on Live.me.


More from PCMag