Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Valentine's Day Bingo
February 24, 2024

End the social media mayhem

In light of Steve Stephen’s haunting Facebook video, it is important to assess the role social media plays in the criminal justice system. For those who are unaware, Stephen posted a video on Facebook documenting his killing of an elderly Ohio man.
Though Facebook was able to take down the video after 23 minutes of it being reported to the platform, it was nonetheless on Facebook for a solid hour and forty-five minutes.
This recent occurrence is not the first in which Facebook has been used as a means to document crimes as they take place. In January, for example, a woman broadcast a video on Facebook depicting her and three others verbally taunting and physically harassing a distraught male in Chicago.
While Facebook has periodically been used to document these heinous attacks, it is certainly not the only social media platform utilized for negative purposes. Twitter and YouTube are other apps used to showcase crimes.
Although advocates for various social medias see social media as a reliable tool for the criminal justice system, I must argue that this is not always the case.
Is there a sense of gratification criminals feel when they know that they have an audience watching them? Do the people engaging in physical and verbal abuse online only do so because it is a form of “entertainment”? In other words, does social media motivate or inspire the people engaging in unlawful activity?
Social media can not be used as a reliable tool for the criminal justice system until there are tools set in place to recognize images in livestream. Yes, social media can be used to expose crimes as they are happening. It can be used a tool to raise awareness about unsafe situations as they are occurring, so in a sense, social media can empower bystanders or victims of crime.
While these videos do provide solid evidence of crimes, there is a lack of control on various social platforms. Without a way to identify what is happening within livestreams as they are occurring, there is truly no way to control the messages being put out on social platforms.
This may be problematic in the sense that these videos are not being monitored to the fullest extent. Yes, videos of unacceptable behaviors can be “flagged” or “reported,” but what happens in situations where people do not “flag” or “report” content? Rather than place pressure on social media users to watch every livestream or video in order to detect unlawful behavior, other measures need to be taken in order to deal with the root of the problem: the videos themselves.
The most concerned individuals like myself can hope for is the development and implementation of software to detect and report inappropriate content as it is being streamed. Considering how quickly technology seems to be advancing in society, this may not be out of reach.

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End the social media mayhem