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Crime on Facebook Live: What to Do if You See Something

Jackie Drake, Staff Writer

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Over a year ago, it was not a surprise to see video evidence of crimes on the news when a big story broke; however, since Facebook Live was introduced on April 6, 2016, these live videos have both supplemented and complicated the process of witnessing a crime. People may now see crimes in live action without reporting them to police, leading to an unnecessary delayed police reaction and response. In the meantime, those committing the crimes may show their faces on the video and make identification easy while they publicly shame their victims.

To make it even worse, viewers on Facebook often partake in merciless sharing of the violent videos, leading to a viral outbreak where the victim has no privacy. When a 15-year-old girl was gang raped in Chicago last March, over 40 people watched online and did nothing. When a young disabled man was attacked by four people in a Facebook Live video last January, it was up for half an hour. These stories accompany those of beatings, murders, and suicides which have come up on Facebook Live and which have been viewed by countless witnesses, many of whom may do nothing. Here are the basics everyone should know if they see a crime being committed on Facebook Live.

  1. Call 911 and tell the police any details about what you are seeing, including the filming location if available. Take note of the person streaming the video and where they are based.
  2. Do not share the video. It is likely the content is violent, or at the very least, inappropriate. Victims featured in the video deserve respect, and you should not want to shock other unsuspecting Facebook users.
  3. Do not contact or confront the person posting the video. You may feel angry or shocked with what they are showing (or doing) in the video, but they might react by deleting the video before authorities can get involved.
  4. Alert Facebook. They will moderate the situation by likely removing the video and contacting police as needed. If Facebook chooses to take down the video, it is an entirely different scenario than if the perpetrator deleted it him or herself.
  5. Take a screenshot of the content or record it for police evidence. If the video is removed by the person who posted it before police are alerted, it may be difficult to use the video as evidence in future prosecution. Still, do not share the video.

 

As a higher number of crimes turn up on Facebook Live, Facebook may become better at controlling them, but it is up to the general public to know what to do if they see something. Above all, call the police and do not share the video or spread the word with anyone but authorities. The next time a news story features a Facebook Live crime, it should not be because the original video went uncontrollably viral.

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Crime on Facebook Live: What to Do if You See Something