Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has updated its community standards for Facebook Live, saying it will ban content promoting violence. Two videos showing Philando Castile’s death and the Dallas Police Shooting have captured the world’s attention over the last days.

This week’s events have raised discussions about the role of citizen journalists. Facebook said that live streaming technology could serve as a window to watch great moments or “witness the worst.” Videos containing sensitive images will feature a warning message.

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has updated its community standards for Facebook Live, saying it will ban content promoting violence. Photo credit: The Country Caller
Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has updated its community standards for Facebook Live, saying it will ban content promoting violence. Photo credit: The Country Caller

The death of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old African-American, caused concern in the United States on Thursday. According to his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, he was shot four times by a police officer while she was waiting in a car, alongside 4-year-old daughter.

When the event occurred, Reynolds immediately took her smartphone and started a live stream via Facebook. The nine-minute video became viral and had already been watched by more than four million people.

“He was just getting his license and registration, sir,” said Reynolds in the video. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has described the event as “graphic and heartbreaking.” He added he hopes not to see a similar video posted on Facebook again.

When Reynolds’ video became widespread on the Internet, it suddenly appeared as unavailable on Facebook. The latter told TechCrunch the video was inaccessible due to technical issues and remarked it did not violate Facebook requirements.

Reynolds told CBS News that she wanted the video to become viral. She added that she wanted everyone to see what police had done to his boyfriend. Her testimony has impacted millions of people around the world.

“We’re very sorry that the video was temporarily inaccessible. It was down due to a technical glitch, and restored as soon as we were able to investigate. We can confirm it was streaming live on Facebook. A couple hours after, it was down for about an hour,” Facebook told TechCrunch.

Two controversial videos in just one week: Should Facebook regulate content?

Earlier in the week, a three-minute live video made by Michael Kevin Bautista became viral on Facebook. The man documented a sniper attack that killed five police officers and wounded seven people, in the middle of a Black Lives Matter protest.

Bautista’s video has already been watched by more than five million people. Facebook said in a statement issued on Friday that Live Video could be a powerful tool in the middle of a crisis. Tech analysts told CBS News we have not yet understood the potential of such technology.

Facebook, which has more than 1 billion daily active users, said that regulations in the social network are equal for all published content. It said viewers of the live video could report streams if they are violating any community standard.

The social network giant said it has a team that works 24/7 to regulate videos that are reported by users, even if the content is public or private. Every time a user classifies a video as inappropriate, it collects a flag.

Facebook: The most sensitive situations involve people sharing violent images

Only Facebook can decide to remove a video or to add it a warning message of graphic or disturbing content. “Warning. Videos that contain explicit content can shock, offend, or upset. Are you sure you want to see this?,” asks Facebook.

The company led by Mark Zuckerberg said situations involving violence in the real world are delicate. A decision to remove or not a video would depend on context and degree, said Facebook.

“For instance, if a person witnessed a shooting, and used Facebook Live to raise awareness or find the shooter, we would allow it. However, if someone shared the same video to mock the victim or celebrate the shooting, we would remove the video,” said the Facebook in a statement.

Live Video was introduced as a public feature in early April. Live streaming technology has gained popularity over the last few years, as smartphones acquired better cameras and faster processors.

The first company that became famous in the live streaming segment was Periscope, which was later purchased by Twitter. Then Facebook continued the trend. YouTube said in late June it would be adding live streaming support to its core mobile app within the coming weeks.

A new way to look at news: live streaming is more personal and direct than mass media

Facebook said it had learned a lot since it first launched live video. This technology could present a new way to look at the events that occur every day in the world. Mass Media experts suggested that citizen journalism is acquiring a greater impact as social media evolve.

Greg Munno of Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University told CBS News that live streaming provides a personal view that can affect audiences, who are not seeing events through media.

Source: Facebook Newsroom