Should Facebook get rid of its 'Live' feature? | The Tylt
Should Facebook get rid of its 'Live' feature?
The Facebook Live murder comes at a time when Facebook is under increased scrutiny for the content on its platform. Facebook denies it's a media company but its lifeblood is the media content users share on the platform. It encourages people to create media, through apps like Facebook Live and 360 degree video. While Facebook Live has brought users hits like BuzzFeed's watermelon stunt, and the case of the perpetually pregnant giraffe, it's also brought a rash of horrible videos showing the ugliest sides of humanity. Some critics argue Live is not worth the pain it is broadcasting.
The entire video is 57 seconds long. Less than a minute: That’s all it takes to broadcast a cold-blooded homicide to thousands of people around the world. And all it takes to raise questions about the limits and responsibilities of a platform that has pledged to reflect humanity in its purest form.
Before this murder, Facebook Live has been central to other horrific incidents, like a teenage sexual assault, shooting violence, and suicides. Some critics of Facebook Live say the platform should be rolled back until new measures can be put in place to prevent the broadcast of death and violence.
Currently, Facebook relies on other Facebook users to flag videos that need to be taken down. But that means that someone has to watch the horror before others can be spared it. The onus falls to the viewers, not the company, to determine what is appropriate, what should be shared, and what should be flagged for removal. Traditional media companies have finely-wrought guidelines and policies to help them make these decisions, but Facebook depends on us to do it. And now it might very well be time for the company to roll up its own sleeves and get to work.
Despite everything, Facebook Live has had a positive impact in challenging traditional narratives. Facebook Live allows anyone to broadcast live to a potentially huge audience. While it can enable horrible things, it also enables people to fight back against injustice. Activists say Facebook Live made all the difference in Philando Castile's fatal police shooting.
In November, Minnesota prosecutors announced that they were filing manslaughter charges against the officer who shot Castile. According to Teresa Nelson, legal director of the Minnesota chapter of the ACLU, the video “absolutely had an impact” on the decision to file charges.
“One of the reasons that police don’t face charges often is because there is so much willingness to defer to the police version of events, and there’s nothing to counteract that narrative,” Nelson said. “With the Castile video, you have someone who is speaking in the immediate aftermath about what is happening and what just happened…. You see a different piece of the picture.”