Live Footage of Shootings Forces Facebook to Confront New Role

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Late on July 7, when sniper fire rang out across downtown Dallas (TX), a bystander, Michael Kevin Bautista, used his smartphone to stream the events in real time on Facebook Live. Within the hour, CNN was rebroadcasting the footage. The day before, Diamond Reynolds streamed on Facebook Live after local police in Falcon Heights (MN) shot her boyfriend, Philando Castile, ratcheting up a controversy surrounding how police officers treat African-Americans. The two real-time videos catapulted Facebook, in the span of 48 hours, into a spot as the prime forum for live events and breaking news. It is a position that the company has long jockeyed to be in as it seeks to keep its 1.65 billion members ever more engaged. Yet the brutal nature of the events that appeared on Facebook Live also put the company in a tricky situation.

Facebook is confronting complexities with live videos that it may not have anticipated just a few months ago, when the streaming service was dominated by lighter fare such as a Buzzfeed video of an exploding watermelon. Now Facebook must navigate when, if at all, to draw the line if a live video is too graphic, and weigh whether pulling such content is in the company’s best interests if the video is newsworthy.

Live Footage of Shootings Forces Facebook to Confront New Role How Facebook Live became our new global distress signal (The Verge)