It's not enough for mentally ill individuals to live in infamy for their violent deeds. These days they have to have a live audience. A year before Facebook Live launched, a former TV reporter at WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia decided to get revenge for being fired for his disruptive conduct by shooting a news reporter and a photojournalist while they were conducting a live television interview. The interviewee was also shot, but survived. The gunman later killed himself during a police chase.
It was an incident that shook the nation and particularly those in the media who never fathomed the idea that this sort of thing could happen.
Fast forward to April 6, 2016, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg gleefully announced the launch of Facebook Live encouraging users to "create, share and discover live videos, allowing anyone the power to broadcast to anyone in the world."
As Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker in the 'Spider-Man' movie, "with great power comes great responsibility."
It's taken several violent incidents for Facebook to come up with a solution to the dark side of their new tech feature. In the past month, a man in Thailand livestreamed the murder of his infant daughter, an Alabama man distraught over a break-up livestreamed his suicide, an Ohio man uploaded a video of a murder he committed, and teenagers in Tennessee recorded a shooting. In some of these cases, it took the staff at Facebook hours to remove the violent videos that had been shared and viewed by numerous Facebook users.
Today Facebook announced it's hiring 3,000 people to its community operations team in an effort to respond to and remove such media faster. The new hires have the difficult task of identifying and removing violence either streamed over Facebook Live or uploaded after being recorded.
What about the users of the social media site? Do they have a responsibility to report a violent act they witness on a site that is closing in on 2 BILLION active users? Regardless, I'm hopeful this move by Facebook will make a big dent in a problem that is rapidly getting out of control.