COLUMN: Be aware of Facebook Live


You’re sitting on your couch. Spending the night on social media and not doing your homework. You get a notification from Facebook that so-and-so is going Live. We all hate these notifications.

There’s a dark side to Facebook Live, though.

The most recent troubles of Facebook Live involves victims who are being sexually assaulted on Facebook Live, so that everyone in the friend’s list of the assaulter can see what is happening, such as the recent case in Chicago, which was watched live by about 40 viewers according to Fox News.

This is terrible.

Sexual assault and the repercussions socially and mentally are already hard enough to deal with for victims. Add to that a list of people who have probably witnessed your sexual assault and will more than likely always remember what they saw.

I am beginning to understand the fear of technology. I’ve written a few articles now on technology in opposition or in cooperation with the law. The only positive that can come out of the Facebook Live situation is that law enforcement may easily identify who assaulted the victim because of video proof. Also the list of witnesses is long.

However, it seems to me that we shouldn’t be fearing technology in the hands of the government as much as we should be fearing it in each other’s hands.

A spokeswoman for Facebook has responded to the situation, according to BBC News. She said that those who work for Facebook work hard to protect the users and will remove any videos that glorify sexual assault or violence.

For me, this feels like a new level of threatening to post your ex’s nudes online. That level of shame and embarrassment is just a shadow compared to what these victims are dealing with now.

Cyberbullying, unsolicited sexts and threats of posting pornographic pictures have always been a threat.

In another case related to Facebook Live, a man in Chicago was bound, physically assaulted and slandered in a video that went live on the assailant’s Facebook.

This particular event is being classified as a hate crime done against a Trump supporter. BBC News reports that the police who responded to the incident claim that the victim may have been held unwillingly for 48 hours before the assault.

Because of Facebook Live, the police were able to identify the assailants and the victim. It is also said that the victim was 18 years old and facing mental health challenges.

In this case, simply differing political views led to a heinous, violent crime against someone who was more than likely unable to defend himself. And then it was broadcast live so the friends of the assailants could either watch in horror or in delight. I hope it was the former.

While Facebook removed this particular video, people had downloaded it beforehand and uploaded it to YouTube. It’s crazy to me that it was able to last 30 minutes and Facebook did not notice the content being broadcast nor did anyone report it.

In 2016, Facebook made a statement about what standards it held for the live streams once they became popular. It claims that someone is waiting to respond to inappropriate content at all times.

I understand that a live stream could be very vital in situations where people need help such as a kidnapping or a community crisis. However, it is scary  that people are using a tool like this to shame and humiliate innocent people.

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