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Local experts say Facebook needs more scrutiny after New Zealand massacre was broadcast live

Posted at 11:05 PM, Mar 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-15 23:05:54-04

CLEVELAND — Some northeast Ohio social media experts believe Facebook is in need of more scrutiny after the massacre that killed 49 in New Zealand was streamed on Facebook live for 17 minutes before it was finally taken down.

The horrific video of the attack at two New Zealand mosques could be found hours later, shared on YouTube and other social media platforms worldwide.

Facebook admitted the streaming video was only stopped after they were contacted by New Zealand police.

The incident has some experts calling for Facebook to take additional steps in policing content posted by its users and the potential exploration of some type of government control if Facebook and other social media platforms don't make serious improvements.

Andrew Geronimo, Director of the IP Venture Clinic at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, told News 5 Facebook needs to take more steps to curtail the posting of violence and hate on its platform.

"I do think that they should hire additional monitors. The way it is now, the financial incentives aren't set-up for them to need to do that. Under U.S. law they're insulated from liability from what their users post," Geronimo said. "I think Facebook really needs to decide what it is, and how it's going to moderate its own content, and what that looks like in terms of the people involved and effort involved. Or we as a people need to say, you know, Facebook did such a poor job, that we need to find something else."

Professor Cheryl Bracken with the Cleveland State Liberal Arts College of Social Services said technological and legislative answers need to be considered, as these posts foster concerns over copycat incidents.

"Legislation, regulation, technology hasn't caught up to the ability to share this type of content," Bracken said. "Maybe one way to handle this is to provide a live delay. Certainly broadcast does that, especially for foul language or sexual content in live events."

Facebook responded to our story by issuing the following statement to News 5:

Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by this horrendous act. New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video. We're also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware. We will continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continues.
Since the attack happened, teams from across Facebook have been working around the clock to respond to reports and block content, proactively identify content which violates our standards and to support first responders and law enforcement. We are adding each video we to find to an internal data base which enables us to detect and automatically remove copies of the videos when uploaded again. We urge people to report all instances to us so our systems can block the video from being shared again.
Mia Garlick, Facebook New Zealand