Facebook clarifies censorship issues on Live videos: Context and degree is everything

Facebook was in a bit of a soup after it 'accidentally' deleted the video of a Falcon Heights lady who streamed the attack on her bleeding companion on Facebook Live. Soon after the video went viral, Facebook took it down. In its defense, the popular social network blamed it on a technical glitch, pinning the downtime to a bug in the system. The video eventually surfaced back on Facebook, but this prompted a lot of users to call Facebook out on its censorship policies.

In a statement released on Friday, Facebook hopes to address the issue of Facebook Live censorship. According to Facebook, Live content will be reviewed according to its Community Standards. Content that is graphic or violent in nature will not be a premise to take it down.

"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," said Facebook.

According to the social media giant, live videos shared to raise awareness about a shooting or any violent incident, irrespective of their graphic nature, will be allowed as the aim of the person streaming it live is to spread awareness and hopefully help catch culprits. But if a live video mocks the victim or celebrates the shooting, then that will be taken off.

According to Facebook, rules for live video are the same as for the rest of their content. "A reviewer can interrupt a live stream if there is a violation of our Community Standards. Anyone can report content to us if they think it goes against our standards, and it only takes one report for something to be reviewed," said Facebook.

Here is a list of all the points on the Community Standards, which tells you what is or isn't allowed on Facebook and how a user may report violation of Community Standards.

Facebook says that a Live video can also be taken down mid-stream if any reviewer flags it for violation of the Community Standards. Facebook says that it has a team on-call 24/7 which is dedicated to respond to reports on live videos.

For videos that are graphic in nature, you will see a black screen with the disclaimer: "Warning – Graphic Video. Videos that contain graphic content can shock, offend, or upset. Are you sure you want to see this?" This video will not start auto-playing in your Facebook feed and will not be available on the feeds of those under 18 years of age.

With Facebook Live videos becoming more mainstream, it will not just be used as a tool by celebrities or for promotional activities. Live reports such as the one that was seen in Falcon Heights, will obviously be on the rise. Facebook Live can be used as effective citizen journalism tool, and many organisations and individuals are using it for that. It will bring up issues of ethics and censorship, and it is in Facebook's interest to clarify any doubts promptly like it did this time.

Facebook Live videos enables news to break on Facebook, something that has been a domain of Twitter. Not to forget Twitter too has Periscope for live streaming. But in terms of sheer number of users, Facebook has a major advantage. If used effectively, Facebook Live can be one of the star features of Facebook, so long as Facebook does not in any way influence or censor the content going live - so long as the Community Standards are followed.


Published Date: Jul 09, 2016 04:35 pm | Updated Date: Jul 09, 2016 04:35 pm