During the confrontation that led to Korryn Gaines’ death, police requested Facebook to deactivate her Facebook account, and the company complied. Police say Facebook was making the situation worse, but many people are saying the deactivation cut off a lifeline and censored Korryn’s side of the story. Facebook is increasingly becoming an important tool for social change and for documenting brutality and abuse of power. Did Facebook set a bad precedent? Or should they cooperate with police?
Korryn Gaines' death highlights the role social media is playing in our daily interactions. It has become a powerful tool, but it is not necessarily good or bad. In some cases, like this one, it could have potentially worsened the situation. It's up to Facebook to be transparent with its policy, especially when people are using its tools to document life-and-death situations.
Baltimore County police say they requested Facebook to deactivate Korryn’s profile because her followers were actively “encouraging her not to comply with negotiators’ requests that she surrender peacefully.”
The only video on Korryn’s Instagram shows her son speaking to the camera. People are arguing that disabling her Facebook and Instagram account denied Korryn the ability to connect and document her side of the story. And it's true, we'll only know the police's side of the story.
“In recent years, social media and shareable video have been instrumental in helping build awareness about the ongoing epidemic of police violence against people of color in the United States. But if Facebook censors this critical tool at the behest of the police, that could all change.“
An article in The Atlantic, "To Live and Die on Facebook," argues that platforms like Facebook have become a lifeline for marginalized people. "Today, the cellphone isn’t being used to call for help, at least not in the literal sense: The people who use these devices to record video have despaired of the emergency responders. No neighbors or immediate community are called upon, suggesting a level of alienation that is very nearly unprecedented."