Facebook murder the latest in difficulty with crime on social media

NOW: Social media crimes

Facebook has provided a platform for violence with an audience, and Steve Stephen's case in Cleveland is just the latest in incidents like it.

Assistant Chief for Portland Police Vern Malloch said social media is a big piece of many of their investigations and how they do their jobs.

Both Maine State Police and Portland Police say they've never had any crimes like the video of the murder posted to Facebook.

But that's just it -- these crimes are still in their infancy.

Jodie Fairbank, who works within the Department of Legal Studies at Husson University, says these things evolve before we even get a chance to do something about it.

"The problem for law enforcement is it takes longer for our laws to catch up," she said. "So by the time we catch up, technology is already three steps ahead of that."

She added it makes it more challenging to be able to prosecute or identify things that are against the law, because, "we didn't think about it when we were making the law, so now stuff doesn't exactly fall under the same criteria. There's no precedent set yet."

Dr. Marshall Robinson, a psychologist in Portland, says as we've seen in Cleveland, there are people who want to show how powerful or desperate they are; other times they're trying to get a point across or feel something was done to them.

"I think there are those people who will look and watch, there are people who will turn away and then there are people who will take action, who will reach out to try to do something," he said. "In terms of a general response, does it desensitize us? I think it makes it more available, but it doesn't necessarily make it more appealing."

At a Facebook Developer's conference Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg responded to the criticism of Facebook's role in all of this.

“We have a lot more to do here. We’re reminded of this this week by the tragedy in Cleveland. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr. We have a lot of work and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening,” he said.

According to USA Today, media experts said Facebook's move on Monday afternoon was the right thing to do and that allowing the sharing of the video only served prurient interests and morbid curiosity. Facebook said it was examining its current process in which users may report inappropriate or offensive content, looking at how technology can better help identify similar situations and how Facebook can hasten the reporting process.

USA Today also reports the social network said that it never received a report of an initial video posted by Stephens in which he reported that he was going to commit murder, and that reports of the second video that included the killing did not reach the network until more than an hour and 45 minutes after posting. Facebook reported that it disabled Stephens' account 23 minutes after receiving a report of the murder video.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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