Last updated on 20-Apr-2017
Warning: This post has content related to murder. Readers who prefer not to read such stuff should skip reading the rest of this post.
[Update: Man Wanted in Cleveland Facebook Murder Kills Himself, Police Say, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/us/facebook-killer-suicide-erie.html, 18th April 2017. Note that police have stated that so far there is only one known murder victim in this case though Stevens claimed in his Facebook videos that he had killed multiple people.
Looks like the crazy and scary saga is over! Lets hope & pray that Facebook does its bit to help prevent such stuff in future by investing in technology and people to monitor any such crazy Facebook live videos, block such Facebook accounts within a short period of time from when such crazy and dangerous intent videos/text are put up, and alert police authorities well before the attention seeker is able to do damage to others. end-Update]Yesterday (17-Apr-2017) was a very disturbing day for me as I saw the Facebook video of Steve Stephens committing murder on an utterly random innocent elderly person, Robert Godwin Sr., 74, who spoke nicely to Steve Stephens.
I pray to Almighty God to shower His Grace on the soul of Robert Godwin Sr., and give strength and courage to his family and friends to bear this tragic loss.
I also saw a 4 minute video Steve Stephens posted a little before the murder, where he explained why he was going to go on a killing spree (as he was upset with his girlfriend and with society not being bothered about his problems - that's my understanding of it). I saw the videos after I read reports about it.
Here's a New York Times article, A Murder Posted on Facebook Prompts Outrage and Questions Over Responsibility, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/17/technology/facebook-live-murder-broadcast.html, dated April 17th 2017, which raises questions of responsibility of Facebook in such matters.
And here's Facebook VP's post, "Community Standards and Reporting", https://newsroom.fb.com/news/h/community-standards-and-reporting/, dated April 17th 2017, in response to the murder.
Some extracts from above Facebook VP Justin Osofsky's post:
On Sunday morning, a man in Cleveland posted a video of himself announcing his intent to commit murder, then two minutes later posted another video of himself shooting and killing an elderly man. A few minutes after that, he went live, confessing to the murder. It was a horrific crime — one that has no place on Facebook, and goes against our policies and everything we stand for.
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. In this case, we did not receive a report about the first video, and we only received a report about the second video — containing the shooting — more than an hour and 45 minutes after it was posted. We received reports about the third video, containing the man’s live confession, only after it had ended.
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. But we know we need to do better.
Keeping our global community safe is an important part of our mission. We are grateful to everyone who reported these videos and other offensive content to us, and to those who are helping us keep Facebook safe every day.
--- end extracts of Facebook VP post ---
Ravi: As I have been a victim of malicious and false libel put up on Mr. Ganti's Facebook post/note as a comment (now deleted after over 2 months of refusal to delete it) by Madhu Baba supporter, Asathya-Adharma (untruthful-unethical) crook, Facebook fake Id coward, bully and conspirator Venkatesh Babu/Parthi Resident, who got assistance from Bhaskar Iyer of Melbourne, Australia in Venkatesh Babu/Parthi Resident's Facebook attacks on me, I find the above extracts of Facebook VP's statement to be very important. [For details of Venkatesh Babu/Parthi Resident malicious and false statements attack on me, please see http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2017/02/my-facebook-posts-related-to.html.]
Facebook moderators completely failed to help me take down Venkatesh Babu/Parthi Resident's fabricated and misrepresented screenshot and accompanying false comment targeting me! I mean, I felt as if Facebook was completely washing its hands off from any responsibility in promoting falsehood of Venkatesh Babu/Parthi Resident which was hurting me in my real life in Puttaparthi!
But then that was not murder! It was just Shakuni poison efforts from Venkatesh Babu/Parthi Resident to spoil/vitiate my relations with some people, and to try to tarnish the name of somebody else. And, the sad thing is that Venkatesh Babu/Parthi Resident did succeed to some extent in impacting my relations with some people! Such is life! And such is the reality of the damage that Shakuni poison people like Venkatesh Babu/Parthi Resident who claims to be a Sai university alumnus, assisted by people like Bhaskar Iyer of Melbourne, Australia, can do!
That somebody may have got ideas about committing murder of random and innocent people, and did murder at least one such random and innocent person, mainly or at least in significant part, because of the attention he would get by uploading videos of it, either live or immediately after the event, on Facebook, is something that profoundly disturbed me. It is one thing that cowardly hiding behind Facebook fake Ids like Venkatesh Babu/Parthi Resident, Mervyn Hughes etc. promotes nasty & monstrous behaviour in some people who otherwise may be decent people. But that completely pales into insignificance in the face of a person using his own name on Facebook, showing his face and ID card, announcing on Facebook live video that he is going to randomly murder innocent people, and then going ahead and doing it with a video posted to Facebook shortly after the murder, showing whoever is interested, how he did it!!!
I am of the view that Facebook MUST DO SOMETHING about such matters to help prevent recurrence of such horrors. This is MONSTROUS EVIL on Facebook and Facebook MUST SPEND MONEY & EFFORT to combat it.
Here's a short video having Facebook founder and boss, Mark Zuckerberg, sharing his anguish at the Cleveland 'Facebook murder', https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RutqLLi4YnY, 1 min. 7 secs., published by CNN Money on 18th April 2017.
Here is a transcript of these words of Zuckerberg:
For the past decade, Facebook has focused on connecting friends and family. And now, with that foundation, our next focus is building community. We have always done a lot of work to help people share and get a diversity of opinions out there. And we were always going to do this.
But now in addition (we are also working) on building common ground. Not just getting more different opinions out there but also helping to bring people closer together. There's a lot to do here. We have a full roadmap of products to help build groups and community. Help (with?) a more informed society. Help keep our communities safe.
And, we have a lot more to do here. We are reminded of this, this week by the tragedy in Cleveland. And our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr. And we have a lot of work and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.
--- end Zuckerberg speech snippet transcript ---
Here are two news articles on the matter:
a) Facebook fails to account for the dark side of human nature, by Erika D. Smith, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-facebook-live-murder-video-20170418-story.html, 18th April 2017
b) Editorial, April 20, 2017: Facebook killer: The dark side of digital creations, http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/opinion/20170418/editorial-april-20-2017-facebook-killer-the-dark-side-of-digital-creations
The articles argue that Facebook (and other Internet software app. giants) does not pay much attention to the dark side of human nature, and that they fail to anticipate how human hatred and greed can misuse their software applications to cause harm to human society. That leads to their software applications being easily misused by dark side of human nature to harm human society.
The articles criticize Facebook for not blocking the evil videos of Steve Stephens on its site for two to three hours. That period was long enough for large number of people to view it, copies of it to be made and shared on other websites. [Ravi: So when finally Facebook did block those evil videos, the videos were still accessible on the Internet through these other websites.]
The second of the above articles notes that Facebook has nearly 2 billion users active worldwide, leaving us to wonder what other horrors the future may bring. It states, "Facebook Live has only AI safeguards, backed up by too few human eyeballs, to guard against a live murder. Or a rape. Or a suicide — all of which have found their way onto the site through posts like Stephens’."
Ravi: My view is that I found Mark Zuckerberg's words to be appropriate both in terms of conveying condolence to the friends and family of Robert Godwin Sr. and in terms of saying that Facebook will do "all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening".
However, I think Facebook should let its users and the world know what exactly they are doing as of now to tackle such human evil using Facebook to harm human society, and how they intend to improve on it to help prevent tragedies like the Cleveland 'Facebook murder' from recurring. I am of the considered view that it is OK to reduce the speed of new applications to ensure that new applications are reasonably safe for human society. Facebook with its nearly two billion users has to handle this reasonable safety responsibility for its large userbase worldwide, including in my country, India.
Having said the above, I think it is also appropriate for me to convey my gratitude again to Facebook. Given below are some extracts from my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1655914581291779, dated Aug. 29th 2015:
I would like to say a big THANK YOU to FACEBOOK for being a FANTASTIC platform for Sathya Sai Baba devotees worldwide to share their thoughts, experiences and work related to Sathya Sai Baba and his mission of reinforcing Truth (Sathya), Ethical living (Dharma), Peace (Shanti) and Love (Prema) in the world. And some of our slightly heated arguments as well :-) . But then democratic dissent is part of modern life and thank God for that, I say.
I pray to Almighty God to shower His Grace and Blessings on Facebook company staff for the wonderful service to worldwide society they are providing. Thanks a ton, folks.
--- end extracts from my Aug. 2015 Facebook post ---
As an extensive Facebook user, in terms of both reading/viewing as well as writing posts, I wish Facebook all the very best in their efforts to help build and better/improve Facebook communities which are informed and safe.
[I thank Facebook VP Justin Osofsky and Facebook company, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]