Categories: NewsTechnology

Criminal Exhibitionism and Facebook Live

Facebook has been in the news many times. From stories on its scrappy beginnings to its IPO, Facebook has enjoyed some great coverage on media outlets. Even more outlandish remarks from its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to “cure all diseases” receive a fair amount of attention from large -and small- sources. However with increasing frequency, the times that Facebook is mentioned are less than desirable for Zuckerberg’s company. Its Livestreaming feature leaves Facebook in a peculiar position that may define what kind of company it will be for the foreseeable future.

Facebook Live: Fun Real Time Updates on Friends, with the Occasional Snuff Film

The sad truth of humanity is that we can be an incredibly cruel species to each other. Even before Facebook, murderers, robbers, and all sorts of criminals would taunt law enforcement and the public. A fairly well known instance of this would be Jack the Ripper, the infamous Whitechapel murderer in Victorian London who would send letters -and allegedly some of his victim’s organs- the the police and newspapers. Even with circulation of news back then being pale in comparison to what Facebook can do in a few hours now, word got around enough that many bemoaned the callous nature of news and media for reporting on such stories after the fact.

But now Facebook’s live stream puts its users in a position where they may unwillingly be watching a snuff film or torture porn. The torture of a man in Chicago was live streamed last year. More recently than that, the Facebook Live Killer who shot a man seemingly picked at random in Ohio filmed and streamed that whole event. Days following that, a man in Thailand killed his daughter and recorded it on Facebook.

Many of these videos stayed up for hours before they were flagged and removed. As mentioned before, many criminals seem to enjoy the powerful feeling of mocking authorities and the public by publicizing their crimes. Could Facebook’s Live Streaming capabilities be encouraging criminal activity then? While such videos only add evidence to solid cases brought against the perpetrators, their openness to the public presents Facebook with a conundrum: How to address criminal -sometimes violently so- on their site?

Disable, Stand Idle, or Censor

As I see it, this is one of those instances where Facebook needs to decide what kind of company it wants to be and form a policy around that. A company executive at Facebook acknowledged that they needed to do better. What exactly that means, remains unclear. Facebook can potentially disable their live streaming feature. That would take power away from any potential criminal from making themselves and their crime(s) famous via the Facebook platform. This may be unlikely though, as other social media sites have this feature and Facebook would need to stay competitive.

They could stand idle, and continue dealing with such actions as they are currently. This requires that for a video to be flagged and taken down, it would need to be reported and reviewed. They’ve faced criticism for the lethargic nature of this process in the fast paced digital age. Finally, they could double down on their censorship, comb over uploaded and streamed content for quick indexing, searching for inappropriate content, and removing that content.

This last option is what I think they will trend toward, as one day it may not be so crazy a possibility with strong enough code and servers. While this would potentially solve the problem, it does call into question how much it values the privacy and agency of its law-abiding users.

Facebook may be tasked with choosing if they want to be less competitive, subject to critic’s ire, or the next great censor of interpersonal content. Regardless of how they may tackle this problem, all I know is that I do not envy the men and women who need to do so.

If you liked this article, follow us on Twitter @themerklenews and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and technology news.


Dariusz is a Digital Anthropologist who has been closely following the world of cryptocurrencies since 2014. He has been somewhat of a crypto-evangelist, trying to educate more people on the exciting realm of cryptocurrency. During his time at University College London, his Master's dissertation focused on how communities inhabit, modify, and create virtual places via social media.

Recent Posts

Gemera Announces Presale for Token Backed by Colombian Emeralds

Gemera has announced the presale for the blockchain based platform, connecting Emerald producers and investors. Disclosure: This is a sponsored…

2 mins ago

Exclusive Interview: Jessica VerSteeg Talks Product Traceability

Jessica VerSteeg began her career as a fashion and print model for 10 years, and she was crowned Miss Iowa…

33 mins ago

Ethereum Price: Bears Control the Market as Value Drops Below $300

A bit of an uneasy situation remains present in the cryptocurrency world as of right now. The Bitcoin price momentum…

2 hours ago

XRP Price: Dominant Upward Trend Continues After Positive Week

It is safe to say the past week has been very interesting for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Although some top…

5 hours ago

Bitcoin Price Watch: Currency Slides Up a Notch, but Growth Is Subjective

At press time, bitcoin is trading for just over $6,400. This is about $50 higher than where it stood yesterday.…

16 hours ago

Exclusive Interview: Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Talks Blockchain, Reveals Upcoming Involvement with Crypto Startup

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, is a computer engineer and inventor responsible for the creation of the Apple I computer…

24 hours ago