The horrific killing of 74-year-old Cleveland grandfather Robert Godwin while being recorded and posted on Facebook has prompted Rev. Jesse Jackson and other leaders to call for the company to shut down the social network’s live streaming function temporarily.
Jackson, Chicago activist Father Michael Pfleger and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin are asking for Facebook to enact a moratorium on Facebook Live for 30 days in order to give the company a chance to develop a method of instantly removing content like the shooting, which took place Easter Sunday.
“The moratorium is … an opportunity for tech companies, elected officials, law enforcement, community based organizations and civil rights advocates and others,” Jackson told USA Today. He says it would help Facebook deduce a method of preventing people from using the network “as a platform to release their anger, their fears and their foolishness.”
Godwin was shot at near point-blank range by Steve Stephens, 37, who said on the video and subsequent recordings placed on Facebook that he was upset over problems with his estranged girlfriend and his financial problems. After a two-day manhunt, he committed suicide in his car as police in Erie Pa., drew near.
It was at first thought that the violent video was placed on Facebook Live, but it was actually recorded and posted on Stephens’ page shortly after. However, other violent criminal behavior has recently been livestreamed there.
In March, a 15-year-old girl in Chicago was abducted and sexually assaulted while a group of assailants streamed the incident on Facebook Live. At least 40 people are said to have watched what happened and did not inform authorities. Two juveniles were arrested in connection with that assault.
In January four individuals, also in Chicago, were arrested in connection with the abduction and beating of a mentally disabled man and streaming it on Facebook Live.
Although those incidents have outraged many over the use of live video on social media to stream violence, others have used it to record incidents with police as well. Last summer, the girlfriend of Philando Castile used Facebook Live to broadcast the aftermath of his being shot by police in suburban Minneapolis.
Law enforcement has also used Facebook in investigations because suspects in crimes have posted their actions on the network, leaving evidence that eventually led to their arrests.