In the wake of the recent Christchurch terror attack, Facebook is considering restrictions on which users can go Live.
Facebook Live is a great feature, but we have seen it being used in ways that can only make us question whether it should be available to all. The recent shooting attack on a New Zealand mosque by a white supremacist – who used Facebook Live to broadcast the whole thing – isn’t the only example. It’s just the most recent.
With the proliferation of live broadcast tools like Facebook Live, Twitter’s Periscope, Twitch, etc., users have been livestreaming anything from sexual content to suicide, or crimes like murder – and more.
The main problem is, of course, the fact that this is happening. Another major problem is that platforms like Facebook seem unable to stop it from happening. There is just no way to control what gets broadcast live.
While there have been efforts to develop AI systems that stop further sharing a material afterwards, these clearly don’t prevent the problem at its source. It’s quite simple really: Platforms are putting a lot of power in the hands of people who are not about to use it for good. And people with bad intentions will always try to get past any security systems.
Now, clearly unable to do anything else to control Live, Facebook is starting to discuss the possibility of restricting who can go Live in the first place. As Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg explains in a recent Instagram Press post: “we are exploring restrictions on who can go Live depending on factors such as prior Community Standard violations.” In my opinion, this is far from enough, but at least it’s a start and a step in the right direction.
Sandberg explains that Facebook is “also investing in research to build better technology to quickly identify edited versions of violent videos and images and prevent people from re-sharing these versions.” As a reminder, videos are mostly spread afterwards through sharing and resharing – not during the actual live event.
Finally, as part of its response to the attack in New Zealand, Facebook is “also using […] existing artificial intelligence tools to identify and remove a range of hate groups in Australia and New Zealand, including the Lads Society, the United Patriots Front, the Antipodean Resistance, and National Front New Zealand.”