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After Homicide Broadcast, Consumers Must Pressure Facebook

facebook live picTwo videos went viral this past month: a United Airlines passenger removal and a murder on Facebook Live.

Consumers worldwide threatened to boycott United. This financial pressure caused a private business to make sweeping policy changes.

The second video, titled “Slaughter,” remained online for 2-3 hours before Facebook finally took it down. Where’s the outrage at Facebook? Is the posting of a murder video merely the exercise of free speech?

The first time I used Facebook Live, a few things troubled me. There is no identity verification in setting up the account. There is no waiting period before you can start posting. The videos do not get reviewed by Facebook before they became visible to the public. Facebook relies on users to report inappropriate content, but it takes several users’ complaints before Facebook acts. Video descriptions (e.g. “slaughter”) do not get flagged.

In watching a broadcast, it is not clear how to report an inappropriate video. The same is true afterward, when it’s posted as a saved video. There is no email address posted, let alone a hotline to call.

Facebook could easily create a safer environment without placing undue burdens on free speech. And quite frankly, public financial pressure is more likely to affect change before Congress.

I for one plan to let Facebook advertisers know that until Facebook improves safety and reporting measures, I will not be buying their products. If you are not sure if this sort of consumer pressure works, just ask Bill O’Reilly.