Facebook Murder a Reason for Censorship?

facebook-censoredA sick fellow drove around Cleveland on Easter Sunday while recording video and murdered a person walking on the sidewalk. The video was then posted on Facebook where it received a great deal of attention.

Facebook deleted it and also the entire account of the murderer not long after it was first posted, but that was basically too late. Other people downloaded the video and posted it themselves. Thus, thousands of copies were distributed faster than Facebook could delete them.
One of the results of this event was a call to more tightly control content on Facebook. Facebook and other social media platforms like

YouTube and Twitter allow users to post videos as they desire. Some people post videos that are illegal, unsavory, and sick. In this particular case, the video falls into all three categories.

The fact that videos like this are allowed to be distributed on social networks is upsetting to many. Certainly, the friends and family of the murder victim don’t want it posted. People with any sense of decency are offended.

The question becomes whether or not it is the responsibility of the social media website to control all of the content that people post. The current system allows users to post videos without any review. This means heinous things will show up on Facebook. The only way to prevent it is to have some sort of content control where people are not allowed to post a video without it first being studied.

This review would require an army of staffers to look at all of the potentially millions of videos being uploaded each day. It would, to a certain degree, be impossible to implement and still allow people to post in a timely fashion. Your post, innocuous as it might be, could take days or even weeks to clear the protocols.

Even if implemented, this solution has problems. Who is to decide what is offensive, illegal, or otherwise violates content rules? What I might find offensive is something someone else would not. We start to get into censorship at this point.

The internet has brought us many wonderful things but also those that are less savory. People post videos of horrific things; murder, suicide, rape, sexual deviancy, and others. Many of these things are crimes. Whether or not a video was taken doesn’t change that fact.

If such videos are not posted on mainstream sites like Facebook they will find an outlet somewhere else. At this point, there is really no way to stop someone from distributing a video as they please. They might be restricted to a smaller platform than Facebook, but those who are interested in watching such things will find them.

The steps required to prevent Facebook from showing these videos for even a short time burdens both the company itself and users who want to post videos of their cats being cute. And it doesn’t stop the distribution of the horrific videos. Therefore, in my opinion, it’s a mistake to even try to implement such rules.

Yes, it’s horrible. The sick individual who stalked and murdered a stranger while taking a video should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but the platform that person used to document their action is not responsible.

If the solution you are proposing to solve a problem isn’t going to work and is going to result in other issues, then you need to find another solution.

Tom Liberman

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  1. Pingback: The Government wants to be in the Business of Tech Censorship - Tom Liberman

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