Technology

Facebook is “reviewing” its reporting system after a video of a homicide in Cleveland went viral

It took about two hours for Facebook to take down video of an apparent homicide Sunday, and more than 24 hours for Facebook to say what it was going to do about the reporting system that allowed that kind of delay.

Facebook Vice President of Global Operations Justin Osofsky said in a blog post Monday afternoon that the company is “reviewing our reporting flows to be sure people can report videos and other material that violates our standards as easily and quickly as possible.”

On Easter, a Cleveland man named Steve Stephens appeared to record and post multiple videos to Facebook, one of which included his alleged killing of 74-year-old Robert Godwin. The incident wasn’t isolated; in the last few months, videos of alleged torture and rape have also been posted to the social media site.

In his blog post, Osofsky stressed that “new technologies” such as “artificial intelligence,” in addition to the “thousands” of humans worldwide that monitor Facebook content, are a critical part of quickly catching such videos. Osofsky also provided Facebook’s official timeline of events, including when Stephens was on Facebook Live, to clarify when Facebook was made aware of the videos and when it acted to take them down:

11:09 a.m PT: First video, of intent to murder, uploaded. Not reported to Facebook.

11:11 a.m.: Second video, of shooting, uploaded.

11:22 a.m.: Suspect confesses to murder while using Live, is live for 5 minutes.

11:27 a.m.: Live ends, and Live video is first reported shortly after.

12:59 p.m.: Video of shooting is first reported.

1:22 p.m.: Suspect’s account disabled; all videos no longer visible to public.

Because Facebook doesn’t monitor every video as it goes up, the company relies on users to flag offending content, whether it’s alleged porn or alleged murder.

“We are reviewing our reporting flows to be sure people can report videos and other material that violates our standards as easily and quickly as possible,” Osofsky wrote. “In this case, we did not receive a report about the first video, and we only received a report about the second video — containing the shooting — more than an hour and 45 minutes after it was posted. We received reports about the third video, containing the man’s live confession, only after it had ended.”

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