Facebook is disputing the reports that it took three hours to remove the murder video from its platform. On Sunday, 74-year-old Robert Godwin was returning home after an Easter meal with family when he was shot by a stranger who posted the video of the murder on Facebook. The suspect in the case is 37-year-old Steve Stephens of Cleveland, who is now called “the Facebook killer” by some.
Not the first time and not the first platform
Stephens allegedly recorded himself shooting the elderly man and then uploaded the video to the social networking site. He then logged onto Facebook Live and described the attack. He also posted status updates and tagged various friends in them. The suspect reportedly claims he has killed about 15 people. However, the police have not found any evidence regarding the other victims.
A Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed that this is a horrific crime, and they do not allow this type of content on the platform. The spokesperson added that they work hard to keep a secure environment and are in touch with law enforcement “in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety.”
In January, a video of a brutal beating was streamed live on Facebook Live, so this is not the first time something like this has happened on the platform. And it is not just Facebook that has been censured for not removing offensive videos; YouTube has been under scrutiny over users uploading and sharing crime videos on its platform.
How much time did Facebook actually take and why?
In the past, the social networking giant has been criticized for its moderation policies, its heavy-handedness in removing videos, and its lax standards allowing users to upload almost anything onto the platform. This time, it was no different. The Verge noted that Stephens’ Facebook page was deleted, but not until “several hours after the attack.”
In a statement, Facebook said, “We know we need to do better.”
The social media giant also vowed to review its reporting process to make sure that it goes faster than before. With the statement, the tech company included a “timeline of events” to explain why it took so long to remove the video from the platform.
According to Facebook, at around 11:09 a.m. Pacific time, the first video of the intent to murder was uploaded, but it was not reported. Two minutes later, the second video of the shooting was uploaded. At 11:22 a.m. Pacific, Stephens confessed to murdering the elderly man while using Facebook Live for 5 minutes; at 11:22 a.m., the Live video ended and was reported shortly after. At 12:59 p.m., the video of the shooting was first reported, and within half an hour (1:22 p.m.), the suspect’s account was disabled, with all videos no longer visible to the public.
This means if Facebook is right, it took just a little over 20 minutes to remove the offensive content after it was reported.