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A social media expert believes Facebook needs to take a long look at how its features can be used in the wake of Sunday’s brutal murder in Cleveland.
“I think Facebook’s original intention for Facebook Live and Facebook video was for such things as weddings, birthdays and brand advertising,” said Stefanie Moore, an assistant professor of Public Relations at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University.
“I don’t think they really thought through the violent culture that it’s kind of bringing. It’s going to be a time for them to re-evaluate and take a closer look at algorithms and this violent culture. I think this will bring about some changes to their policy.”
Steve Stephens, 37, shot and killed 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. on Cleveland’s on East 93rd Street in the city's Glenville neighborhood at about 2 p.m. before uploading a video of the crime to his Facebook page for the world to see. The video remained on Facebook for about three hours before being taken down.
Threats made on social media are often not taken seriously and go unreported, Moore said. Many people didn’t believe Stephens when he discussed killing people throughout various posts and phone calls before the actual shooting video.
“I’m not sure if the people he was even talking to on the phone even knew how to really handle that situation,” Moore said. “It’s just something to think about.”
She also said the fact the video was up on Facebook for three hours is something to be addressed.
“I think the video was up for so long because Facebook is so automated,” Moore said. “Facebook says they have a team that is on-call 24/7 reviewing posts, but you wonder who actually looks at those flags and notifications and how quickly they deal with them. Three hours for that type of content to be up there and for people to be sharing it just seemed like a very long time.”
Moore said people should not be sharing and glorifying the video for a variety of reasons. One reason is because these types of actions could persuade others to copy what Stephens did.
“People need to think about respecting the family of the victim,” Moore said. “People need to not be giving (Stephens) that type of fame.”