Facebook Live: Beyond the Screen


[ot-caption title=”When Facebook Live peels back the curtain of privacy, is it revealing more crime or positivity to the public? (via Samantha Meade, senior)” [spacer height=”20px”]

The world beyond our screens can be a frightening place. Incidents of crime and abuse happen everyday behind closed doors, away from the tiny iPhone camera lens. But with the new “Facebook Live” function, these horrid actions that were once private now become plastered on newsfeeds worldwide. “Facebook Live” is a controversial aspect of the widely used social media outlet. This feature allows users to instantly live-stream broadcast a video of themselves or their surroundings that is open to any friends or followers of the users, essentially allowing a viewer to step into the the broadcaster’s life in that very moment. Pine Crest junior Tara Shecter shares her thoughts about this new portal between privacy and publicity. [spacer height=”20px”]

“It is scary that people are doing these things behind closed doors; ‘Facebook Live’ allows us to see them and become more aware,” Tara said. [spacer height=”20px”]

A majority of these shared moments are relatively appropriate and demonstrate a fun, 21st-century means of interaction.  However, inevitably, there are people who chose to exploit this feature, causing debate over whether or not Facebook should keep this function. [spacer height=”20px”]  

Just a few weeks ago, on January 5, in response to President Donald Trump’s victory, four young black men and women in Chicago used “Facebook Live” for the worst.  They signed onto the live feature and broadcasted for over 30 minutes while they abused a white boy with special needs. They tied him up, then tortured him and used racial slurs on camera because he had allegedly voted for Trump. The four are now facing a hate crime charge, as well as a variety of other felony charges. The most devastating part is that this is only one of many recently graphic events broadcasted through this online forum. Within this month alone, there have been numerous morbid cases similar to the Chicago incident. A mother in Ohio, now being charged for abduction, “jokingly” taped her toddler to a wall in order to “more efficiently” clean the house.  Additionally, incidents of self-harm have been committed live, and, in Sweden, three men broadcasted the graphic sexual violence of a young woman.  [spacer height=”20px”]

Yes, these incidents are all immensely shocking, heartbreaking, and disturbing, but would censoring “Facebook Live” stop them from happening?  The Pine Crest community seems split on the issue. Senior Chris Marzouca is concerned about “Facebook Live,” explaining that it should be censored because of the wide range of ages exposed to Facebook. [spacer height=”20px”]

“With the ‘live’ feature, it becomes even more likely that youth could see inappropriate things,” Chris said. [spacer height=”20px”]

Many can debate that people have the right to publicize whatever content they wish, so how would censoring “Facebook Live” change anything when there are other platforms? Junior Jake Solomon believes that crime would still occur even without live streaming it. [spacer height=”20px”]

“‘Facebook Live’ isn’t the reason people are doing bad things; it is just bringing exposure to them,” Jake said. [spacer height=”20px”]

It is almost impossible to censor something that is live and happening in that very moment. And, once something is aired for the world to see, it can be captured permanently, even if the original post is removed.  Fortunately, people’s responses to these videos has spurred anti-hate campaigns to counter the the original footage. After the live video of the special needs man being tortured went viral, most of the posts surrounding it promoted positivity and strength. So, if these terrible things are going on regardless, “Facebook Live” may be helpful in identifying them, so perpetrators can be found, stopped, and castigated. Since the videos spread across millions of devices and accounts, the saved videos may be used to help identify any accessories to the crime and bring justice to the situation. “Facebook Live” may help stop only some bits of hate that today’s world exhibits, but at least it’s a start. [spacer height=”20px”]

Sources: CNN, New York Post, Washington Post