Facebook launches review of violent videos after Cleveland killing video

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[Facebook]–Facebook says it has launched a review of how it handles violent videos and other objectionable material, as a nationwide manhunt is under way for a man who posted a video of a killing.

The social media platform said it needed to do better after the video of the murder in Cleveland on Sunday remained on its website and mobile app for two hours.

Facebook’s vice president for global operations and media partnerships, Justin Osofsky said in a statement that the social media platform will be looking for ways to make it easier for people to report such videos and to speed up the process of reviewing items once they are reported.

Police said they had received dozens of tips about the possible location of the suspect, Steve Stephens, and repeatedly suggested he turns himself in.

News agencies reports show that the shooting was the latest violent incident shown on Facebook and has been raising questions about how the company moderates huge amounts of content uploaded from around the world.

Facebook relies largely on its 1.9 billion users to report items that violate its terms of service. Millions of items are reported each week in more than 40 languages and thousands of workers review them, Osofsky said in the statement, posted on a company blog.

Police in Cleveland, Ohio working on the case with help from investigators at the FBI and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), have offered a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of Stephens.

He is wanted on a charge of aggravated murder in the death of Robert Godwin Sr. in the city of Cleveland

In the video, Stephens gets out of his car and appears to randomly target Godwin, 74, who is holding a plastic shopping bag. Stephens says the name of a woman, whom Godwin does not seem to recognise.

“She’s the reason that this is about to happen to you,” Stephens tells Godwin before pointing a gun at him. Godwin can be seen shielding his face with the shopping bag.

Facebook said the suspect did go live on the social media website at one point during the day, but not during the killing. Police earlier had said that Stephens had broadcast it on Facebook Live.

The victim’s son, Robert Godwin Jr., told Cleveland.com that he cannot bring himself to watch the video.

“I haven’t watched the video. I haven’t even looked at my cellphone or the news,” Godwin said. “I don’t really want to see it.”

He said his father, a retired foundry worker, collected aluminum cans and often walked with a plastic shopping bag, picking cans up if he saw them on ground. The son said he believed his father was looking for cans on Sunday when Stephens approached him.

In a separate video posted on Facebook, Stephens claimed to have killed more than a dozen other people.

“Like I said, I killed 13, so I’m working on 14 as we speak,” he said.

Stephens, 37, of Cleveland, Ohio, who was described as armed and dangerous, was also placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, a designation officials hope will help raise public awareness about the case.

Police have not verified any other shootings or deaths, Police Chief Calvin Williams said.

“There are no more victims that we know are tied to him,” said Williams.

The incident was the latest disturbing crime captured on Facebook video in the US, including the alleged gang rape of a 15-year-old girl, two fatal shootings, and the kidnapping and torture of a disabled 18-year-old man.




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