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Facebook Live Killings

            The
justification of this assignment is to consider if Facebook has a legal or
ethical duty to rescue a crime victim. Suggestions will be made along with consideration
on three (3) ways that online social media platforms can be more considerate
and meticulous with their assessment of the type of subject matter that appear
on their sites. Included is a suggestion of two (2) safeguards that social
media platforms including Facebook should implement to avert acts of violence
from being broadcasted. This work will discuss whether Facebook has an Ethics
Officer or Oversight Committee, whether these positions exists, and their key
functions. If these committee positions do not exist discussion on whether they
should create these roles. Lastly, this paper will discuss two (2) changes
Facebook should implement to suggest a stronger ethical use of their social
media platform.

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Legal or Ethical Duty to Rescue a Crime
Victim

            In the matter of rescuing a crime
victim Facebook is not legally liable.  Despite not being legally liable, it is
however an ethical duty to report a crime. Included in Facebook’s community
standards are keeping the subscribers safe. The company does not excuse any
type of disorderly activities. Facebook alerts local and federal law
enforcement when there is indication of harm or threats to the safety of the greater
community. Facebook establishes their ethical and moral ideals by supporting in
monitoring and controlling the posting of hostile content. Facebook encourages members
to report any content they have observed on Facebook posts, including Facebook
Live, which can be considered life threatening. Facebook has one of the
largest, if not the largest, social footprints. Leadership has envisioned the
Facebook community having purpose to assist others in becoming connected in
numerous ways to the global communities. Facebook has never encouraged the elevation
of self-injury, suicide, no violence no matter the ratings. There is partnership
with several organizations to support the Facebook community through counseling
during adverse circumstances. One law applicable law protecting the greater
Facebook community are Good Samaritan Laws falling under the category of
volunteer protection laws. After several instances of teens encouraging peers
to do self-harm in the news, Facebook has also banned information and the
communication of encouragement and promotion of self-mutilation and eating
disorders. When there are posts that reveal a person’s identity affected by
such issues Facebook will remove the comments (“Community standards |
Facebook”, 2017).

 

Three Ways Social Media Platforms Can Be
More Proactive and Thorough Their Review of Content

            Facebook
can be hands-on and systematic with their review of the types of content that
appears on their sites by using location based and facial recognition
technology it uses in ads to also warn people about issues going on in their vicinity.
Facebook has been known more recently for having location and cache based ads.
A user can search for a pair of shoes on a department store’s website and see
the same pair of shoes 3 seconds later Facebook. Facebook can integrate the
same technology but in a preventative way. For instance, if a user searches
self-harm techniques, Facebook can then show ads for virtual counseling or a
help hotline.

Proactively, the policies
of Facebook advise users of things not allowed which include nudity or sexually
suggestive content, hate speech, credible threats or attacks on individuals or
groups, content of excessive violence, and deceptive profiles (“Community
standards | Facebook”, 2017). Facebook also provides publicly their
Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. This contains information of their
service terms for the subscribers. One suggestion is that updates on these
policies be provided to users in a graphic intensive way with the formal policy
attached. When provided with a policy update, most users simply scroll down and
acknowledge without reading the updates. These policies are known for being a lengthy
bunch of legal jargon that no one reads. Updates can be provided to users in an
info graphic form or in a video explaining policies and their changes. The site
can then notify them of changes to the policies and guidelines on the Site
Governance Page via email or notification in the app. Facebook needs to also be
stricter and posting Violation of the Statement of Rights and advise users more
hardly that violations will possibly lead to the deletion of part or all access
to Facebook (“Terms of Service”, 2017).

Lastly Facebook can screen
pages regularly for real content. Screening pages dedicated to hate message,
abuse of policy, spreading propaganda etc. may help prevent some pages from
using Facebook in ways that violate community policy.  

 

Safeguards Social Media Platforms Should
Use

to Prevent Broadcasting of Acts of Violence

            Precautions
that Facebook and other social media platforms should put into place to avert
acts of viciousness from being spread virally should consider recurrent
monitoring of the data posted. This can be done through the employment of software
to distinguish and remove events associated with violence. The government
censorship should be enforced to prevent access to violence (“It’s About
Human Rights: Social Media Platforms Must Safeguard Citizen-Generated
Content”, 2017). Removal of graphic images shared to promote violence should
be included in the monitoring process (“Community standards |
Facebook”, 2017).  

            Another
way in which Facebook can prevent broadcasting acts of violence is to have a
separate click indicating that this video doesn’t go against policy. Having
users click one more button before going live in the grand scheme isn’t going
to deter users from posting relevant video on the site. What it may do is
prevent users from being able to record violent acts as quickly. A time out
feature is another way to safeguard against filming violent acts. Having a
person be required click to verify that they are still positing policy abiding material
can deter some video footage like footage in the past showing shootings,
suicides, and torturing. Users will less likely be able to go from violent
behavior to clicking a button on their live feed and may deter some videos of
longer, intense acts of violence.

 

Ethics Officer or Oversight Committee

            Research
has uncovered that there is an Oversight Committee for Facebook. This board characterizes
the interest of the general community and delivers the ethics, laws and rules
of regulation of Facebook. The resolution of the Committee is to impose the
ethic laws and guidelines of the Community Standards. The committee examines grievances
and violations and suggestions beneficial feedback in resolving issues through
ethics training. The Oversight Committee has the authority to administer
penalties when community standards are abused (“Ethics and Oversight |
Commissions and Committees”, 2017).

Though Facebook has an
Oversight Committee, it has been noted that the company doesn’t have an Ethics
Officer. Since the most recent presidential election there has been increase fake
news, many of these articles have been shared thousands of times by credited outlets
on Facebook. According to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact Checking
Network, Facebook has asked for assistance when it comes to filtering fake articles.
Further recommendation would suggest that Facebook hire an Ethics Officer to
help the Oversight Committee with decision making but to also have a level of
formal accountability for the company. Facebook’s trending section, a section
that highlights what most people are viewing at the current moment was previously
manned by Facebook employees. This left room for bias and inefficiency. Most
recently these employees have been replaced with algorithms due to recent political
controversy. Though this is seen as more efficient, the use of systems does not
have the abilities of determining ethical choices as an individual. By hiring a
Chief Ethics Officer would help in the supervision of the Oversight Committee
in decision making. Creating and funding this role would demonstrate to the
government and to users how serious of an onus the Facebook community has for
being ethically responsible (Heider, 2017).

 

Changes Facebook Should Adopt to Encourage

Ethical Use of Platforms

            To
encourage ethical use of Facebook, the platform must do more to focus on
concentrated hate speech. Hate speech included attacks that are directed
towards individuals because of their disabilities or diseases, race or ethnicity,
religion or national origin, sex and sexual orientation, and gender or gender
identity. Careful monitoring hate speech should be managed to help remove this
form of abusive messaging. Facebook should and continue to automatically remove
abusive remarks when distinguished. As less favorable but option nevertheless
is to have sanctions issued against organizations and individuals to the
fullest extent of the law.

To encourage continued
ethical use of Facebook, the policy of using true identity should also be
strictly enforced for the protection of Facebook users. There are increased
amounts of identity theft currently. Using one’s authentic identity is
essential in the elimination of deceiving practices such as hacking or “cat-fishing”
others in fake accounts. When a user is toggling between multiple profiles, Facebook
should monitor whether the proper procedure is being used. The company should continue
to remove profiles that are not authentic. A training opportunity for users is
for Facebook to offer wide-ranging education for users to clarify when it is appropriate
to create a profile and when it is more fitting to create a page. They should
continue to enforce the rule that when there is a violation the individual
should be fined and reprimanded due to fraudulent intentions. (“Community
standards | Facebook”, 2017). 

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, Facebook is not
legally responsible to save a crime victim. However, there is a huge onus on a
company as large and wealthy as Facebook, to ethically report a crime. Facebook
works with local and federal law enforcement when there is evidence of physical
harm or threats to the safety of society. Facebook demonstrates their ethical
and moral community standards by assisting in monitoring and controlling the
outcome of life threatening situations (“Community standards |
Facebook”, 2017). 

 

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