An act of violence gone viral out of Cleveland, Ohio captured the nation’s attention on Easter Sunday and many are now questioning if Facebook’s “Live” feature has done more harm than good.
Steph Stephens used the streaming feature Facebook Live to share a manifesto with the rest of the world as he described his reasoning for starting a potential killing spree.
Stephens blamed a woman for his depressed mindset and promised to kill as many people as he could because of her. Soon after, he recorded himself opening fire on a 74 year old man, Robert Godwin Sr., at random, and uploaded the video to his personal Facebook page.
After a two day manhunt, authorities caught up with Stephens in Erie, PA where he took his own life.
Stephens was one of many people who have been using social media sites to show off their crimes to the rest of the world, and now there is a call for these sites to take action.
The incident in Cleveland comes only a few months after teens in Chicago streamed the kidnapping and torture of a classmate to their followers on Facebook live back in January.
Temple University Emergent Media Professor Larisa Mann says social media sites that are used as a catalyst for violent content should share some accountability.
“I’m kind of hoping we can get to a point where media platforms as well can say everyone has to take some responsibility,” Mann said. “A lot of those images are really painful. They’re really horrible. You’re watching people in real time do terrible things.”
Temple University student Karmelina Branca says she is also concerned about how criminals are using the streaming feature.
“It’s not the first time that we’ve heard of someone using Facebook live for violence or something like that so I do think it’s dangerous.”
Twitter users are calling for Facebook to ban the feature with the hashtag #BanFacebookLive
Mann says social media executives may not want to regulate user content to keep their companies out of legal trouble.
But legal issues aside, she still thinks there’s a conversation to be had.
“The question of responsibility, definitely… Facebook has the power to do something.”
Facebook hasn’t announced any plans to remove the live feature.
But CEO Mark Zukerberg has since acknowledged the incident in Cleveland and promised to “keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”