Facebook Decides Which Killings We’re Allowed to See

Minutes after a police shooting took place in the Falcon Heights suburbs of Minnesota, a Facebook Live video was published on the social juggernaut website. The death of Philando Castile, 32, was documented in harrowing detail thanks to the live streaming tool offered by the social media giant. The 10-minute video was streamed via smartphone by a woman identified in media reports as Diamond Reynolds. She narrates the video with a mix of eerie calm and anguish. The video was removed from Facebook due to, as company says, a “technical glitch.” The video has since been restored, but with a “Warning — Graphic Video,” disclaimer. Motherboard notes that Facebook has become the de-facto platform for such controversial videos, and that there’s a pattern in these so called glitches — as they happen very often time after a questionable content is streamed. This makes one wonder whether it is up to Facebook to decide which kind of controversial videos one should be able to watch The publication writes: As Facebook continues to build out its Live video platform, the world’s most popular social network has become the de-facto choice for important, breaking, and controversial videos. Several times, Facebook has blocked political or newsworthy content only to later say that the removal was a “technical glitch” or an “error.” Nearly two-thirds of Americans get their news from social media, and two thirds of Facebook users say they use the site to get news. If Facebook is going to become the middleman that delivers the world’s most popular news events to the masses, technical glitches and erroneous content removals could be devastating to information dissemination efforts. More importantly, Facebook has become the self-appointed gatekeeper for what is acceptable content to show the public, which is an incredibly important and powerful position to be in. By censoring anything, Facebook has created the expectation that there are rules for using its platform (most would agree that some rules are necessary). But because the public relies on the website so much, Facebook’s rules and judgments have an outsized impact on public debate.


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