On April 6, 2016 Facebook launched Facebook Live videos. Anyone with a Facebook account and a phone was now able to broadcast live to everyone in the world. As people tried out the new feature, we muddled through loud live videos from concerts our friends were at and borderline useless videos of our other friends hanging out on a regular Friday night. Then we fangirled over our favorite celebrities as they made their Facebook Live debuts.
As Facebook Live gained popularity, it began to be used in new ways, especially regarding citizen journalism. Anyone at the scene of a crime, a protest, or an event could stream the occurrences live on Facebook before the media and news crews could arrive. Facebook Live became a new tool to tell the news.
But now Facebook Live itself is in the news, and not for good reasons. In early January of this year, four people tortured a young man with special needs and streamed it on Facebook Live. In late March, a young girl was gang raped live on Facebook in Chicago. And this Easter Sunday, on April16, a man in Cleveland was shot and killed live.
It is nothing new that criminals want media coverage. Many infamous killers kept committing crimes to gain newspaper and television coverage. Now, Facebook Live offers a quicker and easier way to do so.
Facebook took the seemingly great idea of Facebook Live and ran with it-a little too quickly. While it is not Facebook’s fault these crimes are being broadcasted live, Facebook should still take a step back and realize something needs to be done.
Facebook obviously cannot stop these crimes from happening. Currently, the only measures they are taking towards combatting this issue is by relying on users’ flags on videos and the monitoring of these videos by Facebook employees. But it is apparent that that is still not enough.
Unfortunately, I do not have the answers for Facebook. I do not know what would help stop these crimes from being broadcasted and watched. Maybe a Facebook button that directly streams the video to 911? Is that even possible?
For now, it is up to us to help Facebook. So many people have watched these crimes being committed on Facebook Live and have done nothing. If you see a Facebook Live being committed, do not hesitate to call 911! Give them as many descriptive details as possible from the video. Report the video to Facebook. Do not share the video. Doing nothing and being a bystander to a Facebook Live crime is just as bad as being a bystander to any other type of crime.
For more tips on what to do if you come across a Facebook Live crime, visit USA Today’s article.
Senior Viewpoints Editor