How Facebook can resolve its problems with violent videos
Not long ago Facebook held its annual conference, F8 , in which Mark Zuckerberg and other prominent personalities of the social network updated us with regard to their immediate future. We talked about augmented and virtual reality, including how Facebook wants us to communicate using only the mind.
However, as the social giant told us about his plans, there was another issue that Mark Zuckerberg was forced to play, although he did not want to: the appearance in the social network of a video of a murder, a topic that we are already discussing here. We all know more or less what happened: a man from Cleveland shared a video of him killing an elderly person.
Minutes after the facts occurred, the murderer confessed the crime through Facebook Live. Then, about an hour after Zuck took the stage on F8, police said the killer had committed suicide after a hunt for the man who had spread throughout the United States.
And all this with Zuck recognizing the role of Facebook in the facts, without wanting to throw balls out:
We have a lot of work to do and we will continue to do everything we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.
Can they really do something? That is what we ask ourselves at the time of writing this article.
A first step: New tools to report videos
Facebook has promised to review the tools that allow the public to report violent videos, as well as continue their efforts in the development of artificial intelligence that prevents them from spreading, according to media such as Cnet. And yet, those changes have not been enough.
As reported by The Guardian last Tuesday, a man in Thailand allegedly used Facebook Live to retransmit the murder of his daughter before committing suicide. The video was in the social network approximately 24 hours, until finally it was retired.
These murders join a growing number of incidents that have had to do with Facebook Live. Some examples: the kidnapping and torture of a man with diminished psychic abilities in Chicago, or the live broadcast of a shooting in Tampa, Florida, from the function of live videos of the social network.
These incidents have taken Facebook Live to a point where the social network can barely control the service. Taking into account that the social giant has two billion monthly users, there are two billion people who have the ability to press a button, point the camera of a phone at something and broadcast it live so that their friends can see it.
And it is that, unlike the conventional posts, the live broadcast on a large scale is very difficult to control. The difficulty is such that, as shown, all the incidents that we have just named remain.
There are no guarantees that it will not happen again
Facebook wants Facebook Live to be used massively, and has paid celebrities and international media to do so. The feature has been felt strongly in the social network, also with its good ration of criticism when they have acted socially unacceptable.
For example, last July an African-American man was shot in a traffic control. Someone retransmitted live what happened after the events, and Facebook decided to remove the video by, apparently “technical problems”. The users mobilized en masse to denounce that it was a document of high social content, so the social network restored it.
On the other hand, Facebook has also faced the indignation of users when it has not eliminated retransmissions of crimes, such as those mentioned above. This recalls when the social network had to apologize for censoring a statue of the god Neptune.
It is worth remembering that the social giant has bet very strong that the public always have their cameras ready, in case they capture content to share on the network. Without going any further last week, as we have already mentioned, Zuck presented a demo of a camera with augmented reality. Again, another blow to Snapchat, which goes to show that the cameras of the phones and videos are very important for your business model.
In regards to videos like the ones described above, Justin Osofsky, vice president of global operations at Facebook, said the company relies on “thousands” of people around the world to review content marked as inappropriate. Users report millions of photos or videos weekly, in more than 40 languages.
Facebok is working on a more precise artificial intelligence to streamline the process of reporting inappropriate videos, but there are no guarantees that incidents like those in Cleveland, Thailand or Chicago will not happen again.
Peter Csathy, founder and president of Creatv Media, a company that advises technology and media, commented in statements to Cnet that ” there is nothing 100% sure, no matter what resources are allocated to fight against it, something always will get sneak.”
In addition, perhaps to gain more control a new debate on privacy would open, since if they wanted to eradicate this content completely
Facebook has not been the only one with this kind of problem
The social giant is not the only one of all the technology companies that has problems with violent content. For example, a man attacked his girlfriend live on Twitch, and even a man retransmitted by Periscope his own murder. However, the size of Facebook makes it ideal for the wrath of users to be directed against it.
The social network has not commented on the murders in Thailand, nor has it said anything about the future of Facebook Live, or how the company can improve the safeguards with which the technology already counts today.
It is a complicated situation. Mark Zuckerberg has bet heavily on the videos that appear shared on Facebook. He believes they are the future, and when Facebook Live appeared, Zuck himself said that we were entering a “golden age of video”:
I would not be surprised if five years go by and most of the content that people see is on Facebook, and they are sharing videos daily.
What Facebook does have now is a lot of work ahead . We will see how he manages this type of crisis in the future, but for now it seems that his answers have arrived late and without sufficient forcefulness.