When you search “Facebook Live” on Google today, these are the most popular results you’ll see:
- Dave Smith/Business Insider
Not “Facebook Live tips and tricks.” Not “Facebook live funniest videos.” All the most popular searches for Facebook Live revolve around murders, torture, and death. This is probably not what Facebook had in mind when it introduced Facebook Live to the public last April.
With the exception of the “Chewbacca Mom” video, Facebook Live only seems to get in the news cycle when a horrific incident occurs on the platform. Some examples:
- In early April, a student in Mumbai committed suicide on Facebook by jumping to his death. In February, a pregnant woman was filming a Facebook Live when her two-year-old toddler accidentally killed himself and another man with a handgun. Also in February, two journalists were shot and killed in the Dominican Republic while broadcasting a segment on Facebook Live. In December, an 18-year-old girl tried using Facebook Live while driving and crashed, live-streaming her own death. Last June, a 28-year-old man was shot and killed while filming a Facebook Live video in Chicago.
These are just a handful of the dozens of examples you’ll find online.
Facebook Live is currently in the news because, according to Cleveland police, an Ohio resident named Steve Stephens killed an elderly man on Facebook Live on Sunday and claimed to have killed more than a dozen other people in the same broadcast. State and local police are still searching for Stephens, with authorities and Cleveland Mayor Frank Johnson asking the man to turn himself in.
Now, it’s important to note that live-streaming video platforms on the internet are a relatively new medium. And as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and others continue investing in live video, it’s unclear what, if anything, should be done when these incidents occur – from hiding these videos from web search, to preventing these gruesome and sad tragedies from being broadcast live in the first place. The fact is, even if Facebook is quick to take down these offending videos, it doesn’t take much for these incidents to become news stories, which in turn leads people to search for the original videos through Google and other search engines. So as live video becomes more of a thing, hopefully we’ll see Facebook and others make efforts to address this complex and sensitive issue.