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Facebook’s Duty in Facebook Live Killings
Assignment 1
Legal 500: Law, Ethics, and Corporate Governance
January 29th, 2017
Kimberly Nickelberry
Strayer University

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Facebook Live Killings

The purpose of this discourse is to consider if Facebook has any legal or ethical duty to rescue a crime victim when the crime was broadcasted on their social media platform. In this paper, suggestions will be made 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.There will also be 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 currently has an Ethics Officer or Oversight Committee, whether these positions exists, and their key functions. If these committee positions do not exist, this paper will discuss whether the company 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. 

Legal or Ethical Duty to Rescue a Crime Victim

In the matter of rescuing a crime victim when the crime was broadcasted on Facebook, Facebook is not legally liable.  Despite not being legally liable, it is however an ethical duty to report a crime. Keeping the users free from harm and danger are tenants included in Facebook’s community standards. The company does not excuse any type of disorderly activities. When there is indication of harm or threats to the safety of the greater community, Facebook alerts local and federal law enforcement. Facebook establishes their ethical and moral ideals by supporting in monitoring and controlling the posting of hostile content. Any content user has observed on Facebook posts, including Facebook Live, which can be considered life threatening, Facebook encourages members to report. 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. Through counseling during adverse circumstances, there is partnership with several organizations to support the Facebook community. 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. Facebook will remove the comments when there are posts that reveal a person’s identity affected by such issues. (“Community standards | Facebook”, 2017).

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

By using the same location based and facial recognition technology it uses in ads technology, Facebook can be hands-on and systematic with their review of the types of content that appears on their sites. 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’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities is also provided publicly. 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. Facebook has asked for assistance when it comes to filtering fake articles, according to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact Checking Network. To not only assist with decision making but to also have a level of formal accountability for the company, Facebook should hire an Ethics Officer to help the Oversight Committee. 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. To help in the supervision of the Oversight Committee, a Chief Ethics Officer should be hired as soon as possible (Dreyfuss, 2017). 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 still viable option, is to recommend sanctions issued against organizations and individuals.
The policy of using true identity should also be strictly enforced for the protection of Facebook users and to encourage continued ethical use of Facebook. There are increased amounts of identity theft currently. Deceiving practices such as hacking or “cat-fishing” others in fake accounts can be eliminated by an enforcement of policy requiring user to use their authentic identity. Facebook should monitor whether the proper procedure is being used especially when a user is toggling between several profiles. 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 stated in the community standards that says when there is a violation of said policies 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).  
 

Reference
Community standards | Facebook. (2017). Facebook.com. Retrieved 28 January 2018, from https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards#self-injury 
            Dreyfuss, E. (2018, January 09). The One Hire Facebook Really Needs to Make to Curb 

Violence. Retrieved January 28, 2018, from https://www.wired.com/2017/05/one-hire-facebook-

really-needs-make-curb-violence/

Ethics and Oversight | Commissions and Committees. (2017). Ncsl.org. Retrieved 28 January 2018, from http://www.ncsl.org/research/ethics/oversight-ethics-commissions-and-committees.aspx
Heider, D. (2017). Why Facebook should hire a chief ethicist: Column. USA TODAY. Retrieved 28 January 2018, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/01/08/facebook-ethics-fake-news-social-media-column/96212172/
It’s About Human Rights: Social Media Platforms Must Safeguard Citizen-Generated Content. (2017). HuffPost. Retrieved 28 January 2018, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/esraaa-al-shafei-/its-about-human-rights-so_b_9300036.html
Retrieved 28 January 2018, from http://www.ncsl.org/research/ethics/oversight-ethics-commissions-and-committees.aspx
Terms of Service (2017). Facebook.com. Retrieved 28 January 2018, 

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