Facebook has vowed to change some of its community policies after a man from Cleveland went on a shooting rampage and transmitted the entire thing on Facebook Live on Easter Sunday.
The gunman, identified as Steven Stephens, posted a live video on the social media platform where he's seen going on a rant and then approaching a person at random and shooting them. The victim was 74-year-old retired mechanic Robert Godwin, a grandfather of 14. Stephens also claimed he'd allegedly murdered other people, but police never found any evidence of additional victims. Stephens killed himself in Pennsylvania after a police chase on Tuesday, April 18, according to CNN.
Following the tragedy, Facebook issued a statement announcing new changes in its community and reporting policy. "It was a horrific crime — one that has no place on Facebook, and goes against our policies and everything we stand for," noted Justin Osofsky, VP, Global Operations.
However, the corporation faced a lot of backlashes because the gruesome video circulated the platform for several hours before it was removed.
"As a result of this terrible series of events, we are reviewing our reporting flows to be sure people can report videos and other material that violates our standards as easily and quickly as possible. In this case, we did not receive a report about the first video, and we only received a report about the second video — containing the shooting — more than an hour and 45 minutes after it was posted. We received reports about the third video, containing the man’s live confession, only after it had ended. We disabled the suspect’s account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the murder video, and two hours after receiving a report of any kind," Osofsky noted.
Facebook, whose main mission is to provide a safe community to its users, also acknowledged the fact that they need to do better when faced with circumstances like the Cleveland tragedy.
Their new policy plan is as follows:
"In addition to improving our reporting flows, we are constantly exploring ways that new technologies can help us make sure Facebook is a safe environment. Artificial intelligence, for example, plays an important part in this work, helping us prevent the videos from being reshared in their entirety. (People are still able to share portions of the videos in order to condemn them or for public awareness, as many news outlets are doing in reporting the story online and on television). We are also working on improving our review processes. Currently, thousands of people around the world review the millions of items that are reported to us every week in more than 40 languages. We prioritize reports with serious safety implications for our community and are working on making that review process go even faster."
Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, also opened up about the incident at Facebook's developer conference F8 and said:
“We have a lot more to do here. We’re reminded of this, this week by the tragedy in Cleveland. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr. We have a lot of work and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”