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Facebook Live Murders: What You Should Know About The Live-Stream Service

There were four Facebook Live murders on Tuesday this week, one involving a 2-year-old boy, another involving a man in his 20s, and two others that included the murders of two newscasters from the Dominican Republic.

This is, unfortunately, only a sampling of the violence that has been aired on Facebook Live in the past several months.

Everyone remembers the four black teens who abducted and tortured a handicapped white male in Chicago and broadcasted it on Facebook Live for the world to see, but there are other incidents like this that didn’t make international news.

On June 15, 2016, Antonio Perkins, a 28-year-old man who had ties to gang activity in Chicago, seemingly recorded his own murder on Facebook Live, according to the New York Post. The video footage was found after the fact by homicide investigators as a post on Perkins’ Facebook page.

A couple of days before Perkins’ death, a jihadist attack in Paris was streamed on Facebook Live. According to the Mirror, Larossi Abballa attacked and murdered a Parisian police officer with a knife outside the officer’s home on June 13, 2016. Then, Abballa entered the cop’s residence where the wife and child of the deceased resided and imprisoned them in their own home before police were able to take action.

Larossi Abballa's victims
Officer Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and Jessica Schneider are who Larossi Abballa killed on Facebook Live. [Image by Kamil Zihnioglu/AP Images]

Abballa was taken out by French law enforcement, but they had arrived too late to save the life of the mother. The male child, although he’d been in severe mental peril, was physically unharmed.

Much of the violence seen on Facebook Live are murders, but suicides have also been streamed through the service.

Facebook Live Suicides

On January 22, a young teen girl who was living at a foster home in Miami, Florida, hung herself from a tree and streamed the horrific incident on Facebook Live. According to AOL News, the live footage played for two hours. Her name was Nakia Venant, and she was only 14-years-old when she took her life.

Just a day later, on January 23 in Los Angeles, California, a 33-year-old man by the name of Frederick Jay Bowdy died of a self-inflicted bullet to the head. It was streamed on Facebook Live as well. According to the Sun, Bowdy was an up-and-coming actor who, just days before his death, had been arrested for suspected rape.

A few weeks before these two Facebook Live suicides, on December 30, 2016, a 12-year-old girl named Katelyn Nicole Davis killed herself by hanging. Davis did not use Facebook Live to stream her death, but a similar service called Live.me, according to the Inquisitr.

Although Katelyn’s suicide wasn’t streamed using Facebook Live, the footage did make its way to YouTube and Facebook, and Live.me is just another option for this kind of disturbing content to be broadcast through.

What Are The Rules?

It’s not likely these occurrences are going to end unless action is taken to permanently prevent them from happening, and the only sure-fire way to do that is to discontinue Facebook Live and other live-stream services, but is that really realistic?

Probably not, as the counter argument to ending live-stream services is that people use it to share good and positive things with the world.

Facebook released a statement on July 8, 2016, with the heading “Community Standards and Facebook Live.” In it, it’s stated that upsetting content is not necessarily forbidden, as there are times when such footage can be used for a positive purpose.

“…if a person witnessed a shooting, and used Facebook Live to raise awareness or find the shooter, we would allow it. However, if someone shared the same video to mock the victim or celebrate the shooting, we would remove the video.”

It also says that live-stream videos on Facebook are to be treated like any other content on the site. Hence, if one feels that a real-time video needs reporting, they would report it in the same manner they would report any other site post.

At the bottom of Facebook’s Community Standards web page, it says, “Not all disagreeable or disturbing content violates our Community Standards.”

It goes on to give tips on how one can prevent themselves from coming across upsetting material by using tools such as blocking, hiding, and unfollowing on a regular basis for Facebook’s system to learn and recognize when there’s something you’d rather not see.

Essentially, the more you utilize the site’s personalization capabilities, the less likely you will encounter distressing content.

According to these guidelines, instances of suicide and self-harm are strictly forbidden. Only media and literature that advocates against killing or hurting oneself are allowed. Despite this, for one reason or another, the Facebook Live video depicting Katelyn Nicole Davis’ suicide was not nixed from Facebook until several days after it first appeared.

Law enforcement is virtually powerless to stop disturbing live-stream videos from getting on the internet and spreading across social media. Sites affected by upsetting Facebook Live or other live footage do what they can to prevent others from being negatively impacted, but as long as the service exists, people are going to use it to share horrific occurrences.

Facebook Live is just a part of a bigger problem, and until the creators behind this technology find a way to stop the live streaming of murders, suicides, and other violent incidents, this disturbing trend will continue.

[Featured Image by GongTo/Shutterstock]

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