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Facebook launches review of video content after horrific Cleveland killing

Tech Take: Android Central's Daniel Bader on the challenges Facebook must overcome in order to control and censor graphic violence on their live streaming platform

 

Facebook says that it will launch a review of its video content after horrific footage showing the killing of an elderly man was posted on the social network Sunday.

Steve Stephens, 37, shot and killed Robert Godwin, 74, in an apparently random attack on Sunday, recording the killing on his phone and uploading the sickening video to Facebook.

The video of the killing was on the social media site for more than two hours before it was removed. Stephens' account also was removed.

FACEBOOK'S NEW FACES OF DEATH

The shooting sparked a massive manhunt. Stephens, who was dubbed the “Facebook killer” killed himself Tuesday morning in Pennsylvania.

In a post Monday, Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president of global operations, explained that the social network is rethinking its reporting process for tackling sick content.

“As a result of this terrible series of events, we are reviewing our reporting flows to be sure people can report videos and other material that violates our standards as easily and quickly as possible,” he wrote.

FACEBOOK KILLER STEVE STEPENS DEAD, POLICE SAY

The Facebook executive explained that three videos related to the killing were posted to the social network Monday and gave a timeline of the events:

2:09 p.m. EDT  — First video, of intent to murder, uploaded. Not reported to Facebook.

2:11 p.m. EDT — Second video, of shooting, uploaded.

2:22 p.m. EDT — Suspect confesses to murder while using Live, is live for 5 minutes.

2:27 p.m. EDT  — Live ends, and Live video is first reported shortly after.

3:59 p.m  EDT  — Video of shooting is first reported.

4:22 p.m  EDT — Suspect’s account disabled; all videos no longer visible to public.

“We disabled the suspect’s account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the murder video, and two hours after receiving a report of any kind,” wrote Osofsky. “But we know we need to do better.”

FACEBOOK IS USING AI TO IDENTIFY SUICIDAL THOUGHTS -- BUT IT'S NOT ENOUGH, EXPERTS SAY

Facebook uses artificial intelligence technology to identify content that needs to be removed, as well as a large network of employees that monitor reports from Facebook users. “Currently, thousands of people around the world review the millions of items that are reported to us every week in more than 40 languages,” wrote Osofsky. “We prioritize reports with serious safety implications for our community, and are working on making that review process go even faster.”

The social network’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg also vowed to improve Facebook’s reporting processes during the company’s F8 developer conference Tuesday.

“We have a lot more to do here,” Zuckerberg said. “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.”

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Facebook is harnessing artificial intelligence in a number of areas, such as the battle against fake news and identifying people who express suicidal thoughts in posts and live streams.

Artificial intelligence expert Alex Terry told Fox News that the technology is ideal for quickly scanning vast quantities of data. "AI is very good at pattern recognition and pattern matching at scale," he said. "It can do things that are actually impossible for humans to do at that scale and that speed."

Terry, who is CEO of artificial intelligence software specialist Conversica, says that Facebook is a leader in the use of AI. "They have a lot of credibility," he said, but noted that people need to be realistic about the strengths and weaknesses of artificial intelligence. "It's not a silver bullet, but importantly, it learns and improves over time."

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers