Facebook has issued a policy statement on its Live video censorship guidelines in connection with violent or graphic images. The post makes its clear that Facebook is intent on allowing Live video to thrive as a tool for raising social awareness, despite the controversy that may arise from that decision.
The official blog post comes in the wake of the mounting controversy over a distressing clip that showed the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Philando Castile at the hands of a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg also addressed the video in a separate post shared yesterday.
“Live video … gives us a window into the best moments in people’s lives, it can also let us bear witness to the worst,” states Facebook. “Live video can be a powerful tool in a crisis — to document events or ask for help.”
In particular, the post details the type of sensitive material that is permitted on Facebook. The social network draws a fine line between unauthorized extremist content created to incite hate or promote terrorism, and clips uploaded to bring attention to or condemn the violence they depict.
“One of the most sensitive situations involves people sharing violent or graphic images of events taking place in the real world. In those situations, context and degree are everything,” states Facebook.
“For instance, if a person witnessed a shooting, and used Facebook Live to raise awareness or find the shooter, we would allow it. However, if someone shared the same video to mock the victim or celebrate the shooting, we would remove the video.”
Additionally, Facebook clarifies its policy on reporting Live videos that violate its community standards, which places the onus on the site’s users. The social network states that there is a team dedicated to monitoring the feature around the clock whose role it is to respond to reports immediately.
In the case of the Philando Castile video, which was live-streamed to Facebook by his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, the clip was initially removed and later restored. Despite Facebook claiming that this was due to a technical glitch, outcries of censorship from users, and the media, have led to further scrutiny of the company’s policing of its nascent tool. Facebook reinstated the clip with a disclaimer screen carrying a graphic warning, and did not allow it to auto-play due to its upsetting nature.
In light of this new blog post, it seems the company will allow Facebook Live to thrive with seemingly few restrictions. This will undoubtedly result in more controversy, but that is something the social network is well versed in dealing with.