Facebook’s Manual to Live Streaming Suicides, Crimes: We Don’t Care

Facebook’s manual is clearly seen dodging some serious implications of live streaming suicides and crimes. The policies hint that the company does not care as long as the videos are engaging.

Facebook’s Manual to Live Streaming SuicidesIn a shocking set of leaked documents, Facebook’s guidelines to live streaming suicide and crime videos are said to be for the best of users’ safety “as they are engaging with viewers.”  Facebook argues that it would take down videos only if “they are not newsworthy”.

The incident of a student in Mumbai, who live-streamed his death on Facebook last month, raised a lot of questions on Facebook’s feeble internal policies that fail to take down or filter such videos.

Facebook’s Manual to Live Streaming SuicidesThe Guardian, today, published leaked internal documents of Facebook’s policies that reveal startling information of how the social networking giant deals with sex, violence, and terrorism.

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Facebook’s policies of not blocking crime, suicidal videos have a downside impact and are completely absurd. It argues through its policies of permitting users to live stream attempts to self-harm because it “doesn’t want to censor or punish people in distress who are attempting suicide”.

California-based social networking giant rolled out the live streaming video feature in 2015.

Facebook’s Manual to Live Streaming SuicidesIt was welcomed with great enthusiasm including when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s live videos got millions of hits but eventually evolved into depicting hate crimes, murders and now into the most recent incidents of users live streaming suicide.

Reports state that Mark Zuckerberg himself is said to personally support the product, which, according to him, is instrumental to the next stage of the company’s growth, and has been one of the most prolific users of the feature, periodically “going live” on his own Facebook page to answer questions from users.

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But he clearly seems to ignore the dark side of the feature. Recently, in the updated Facebook guidelines, content moderators claimed experts advised them to let users with suicidal tendencies or in distress are allowed to live stream for their best.  For Facebook, users live streaming suicide or about their distress means “interaction with their viewers.”

Facebook’s Manual to Live Streaming SuicidesTo put it in exact words, the policy update of Facebook says, “We don’t want to censor or punish people in distress who are attempting suicide. Experts have told us what’s best for these people’s safety is to let them live stream as long as they are engaging with viewers.”

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What’s more shocking is the company’s absurd policy of deleting all videos depicting suicide “unless they are newsworthy, even when these videos are shared by someone other than the victim to raise awareness”. The leaked documents also revealed videos of violent deaths — which it claims can highlight mental issues — and abortions would be permitted as long as there is “no nudity.”

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If that’s what depresses you, it does not end there.  Abuses such as ‘F*** off and die’, ‘bitch’ would not be filtered as it does not come under the “credible threats” of Facebook’s rulebook.

Facebook’s Manual to Live Streaming SuicidesEven videos and/or photos of kids suffering non-sexual physical abuse or bullying would remain on the social networking site unless there is an element of “sadism or celebration”.

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Facebook’s poor censorship laws might certainly have a rampant effect on its users particularly in today’s world where mental health is a real time issue. The company is clearly dodging some serious implications and it is about time for a scrutinization of policies.  

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Archana Atmakuri

A digital media enthusiast. An observer of international politics, also a yoga lover

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