Facebook Live: The Elephant in the Room

Where’s the outrage at Facebook?

If I were CEO, I’d be mortified that my company has been hijacked by morons and thugs committing heinous acts.

And maybe Mark Zuckerberg is deeply disturbed by this and has given his team marching orders.

If so, it’s happening in slow motion.

Yesterday, Zuckerberg briefly addressed the latest violent incident (video of 74-year-old’s murder uploaded to Facebook on Easter Sunday, then killer goes live to encourage people to watch what happened).

He spoke on stage during Facebook’s annual developers conference:

“We have work to do, and we will keep doing all we can to keep tragedies like this from happening.”

That was it.

Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that the problem is being addressed in dramatic fashion.

The fact is Facebook wants to conquer the globe and has placed big bets on mobile and live video. Any retreat is unlikely.

The most recent tragedy was an elderly man’s cold-blooded murder. I’m not sure anyone could have stopped that — other than the killer’s family or friends.

But Facebook *could* announce aggressive steps to take the keys to ‘Facebook Live’ out of the hands of criminals and psychos.

Since there’s little doubt that going ‘live’ probably encourages sick-o behavior, then Facebook should deal with the monster it’s created head-on.

Here are a few ideas:


— Stop relying on the “community” as the first line of defense to flag violent content. Facebook’s profit now tops more than 1 BILLION DOLLARS A QUARTER. I think Zuckerberg can afford to pay a few hundred people to monitor Facebook Live and quickly intervene to take down the video feed and call the cops.

— As an immediate step, only Fan pages and ‘verified’ accounts will have live capability.

— In the longer term, Facebook creates a social media version of TSA Pre-Check. Something like, only people who send in a copy of their driver’s license will have Facebook Live turned back on. (Facebook already uses this process for ‘blue check mark’ verification.)


If any of the major networks or cable channels had consistently aired such vile, repulsive acts — both the FCC and Congress would be investigating.

Why should Facebook be any different? Where are its stockholders?

I was invited to talk about this yesterday with Roe Conn and Sylvia Perez on WGN Radio — no doubt one of dozens of discussions on talk radio after news broke that the Facebook killer was dead from suicide.

We struggled to make sense of any of this — except that social media tends to encourage all kinds of unflattering ‘click bait’ behavior. Even by people who should know better.

And while today Facebook is on the hot seat, next it could be Twitter or YouTube or Instagram. All of social media is moving to LIVE capability.

It’s time, though, for all of these business to start acting like adults are in charge — and get ahead of this deeply troubling issue once and for all.

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