Growing concern over streaming tragedies
Publish date: 19 April 2017
Issue Number: 1679
Diary: Legalbrief eLaw
A suspect murdered a man in Cleveland in the US while streaming the crime live on Facebook. Robert Godwin, a retired foundry worker with nine children and 13 grandchildren, was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the tragedy occurred. Just before fatally shooting him in a video uploaded to Facebook, the individual identified by police as Steve Stephens asked him, ‘Can you do me a favor? Can you say ‘Joy Lane’?’ ‘Joy Lane?’ Godwin, appearing confused, responded. ‘Yeah,’ Stephens said. ‘She’s the reason why this is about to happen to you.’ The Washington Post reports that the sudden popularity of live-streaming video services like Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope – along with the ability to upload previously shot videos to the platforms – has been increasingly been accompanied by the sharing of violent acts such as slayings, rapes and suicides and even torture. The videos are posted by people seeking attention, even feelings of empowerment. Now, experts worry now about copycat offenders and, worse, people seeking to ‘one-up’ the gruesomeness of the last viral video. As Cleveland police and the FBI launched a manhunt on Sunday, Facebook officials removed the original video of the slaying from its platform. ‘This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook,’ a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.