Mark Zuckerberg believes Facebook Live could illuminate wrongdoing in the world.
Facebook still hasn’t explained the details of its policy on censorship of Live video. But today in response to the police shooting of Philando Castile whose last moments of life were broadcast on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted that “The images we’ve seen this week are graphic and heartbreaking, and they shine a light on the fear that millions of members of our community live with every day.”
The comments indicate that Facebook may lean towards less censorship of Live because of its potential to expose injustices.
Zuckerberg also expressed his sympathy for the victim, others like him, and their loved ones. “While I hope we never have to see another video like Diamond’s, it reminds us why coming together to build a more open and connected world is so important — and how far we still have to go” Zuckerberg wrote.
The aftermath of the shooting and Castile’s final moments before death were broadcast on Facebook Live by his girlfriend. The video was taken down by Facebook for an hour due to what it claimed was a “technical glitch”, then reappeared with an interstitial disclaimer warning users of its graphic content. Still, even the temporary take-down raised questions about Facebook’s role in the future of citizen journalism and censorship.
Facebook Needs A “Graphic But Newsworthy” Content Flag
Facebook must determine whether it’s willing to be a serious source of news, even if the content it shows is challenging or uncomfortable for some viewers seeking a more light-hearted experience. While it might seem like graphic content could scare away some users or advertisers, it could also make Facebook a more popular place for consumption and discussion of current events.
Right now, the graphic content disclaimer does a good job of shielding eyes from what they might find offensive without suppressing it. But the problem is that the need to add the warning is currently triggered by other users flagging the content. Yet Facebook has no reporting option for important by graphic content, only that something is graphically violent.
The best bet might be for Facebook to add “Graphic but newsworthy” as a reporting option, and add the disclaimer without any temporary takedown. Then it could have a member of its team review the content and make sure it deserves the warning.
But the fact is that anyone watching a broadcast in real-time can’t be warned of graphic content. No one will see it coming. Facebook may just have to accept that, perhaps add a blanket warning to Live broadcasts, and know that once in a while. some users may be shocked or offended. That seems a worthy price to occasionally pay for Facebook to “shine a light on fear”.
Here’s an embed of Zuckerberg’s Facebook post responding to the shooting: