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Facebook’s changing face

The ghastly scenes of the live shooting of the Christchurch mosque are doing the rounds online till this day. Though New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern refused to take the name of the terrorist, the face of the white supremacist refuses to go away. His notoriety hit almost every mobile phone screen the world over, thanks to Facebook’s unchecked live video streaming facility to its users. Learning lessons from the shooting, the social media site has announced tighten live video streaming rules. In an online post, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said they faced questions “how online platforms such as Facebook were used to circulate horrific videos of the attack.” The social networking site will take three steps: strengthening the rules for using Facebook Live, taking further steps to address hate on our platforms, and supporting the New Zealand community.
Social media sites like Facebook gave a voice to the voiceless, generating term ‘citizen journalism’, changing the rules of journalism. On the one hand, social media gave voice to the voiceless, on the other hand, it was also used to muzzle rightful voices and spread hate literature. Live streaming video facility enabled millions of users to broadcast their activities. The facility raised awareness about critical issues among the users. That is, however, one side of the coin. Hate groups also saw an opportunity in using Facebook features to propagate their agenda. It is a good development that the site is going to bar the people who have previously violated the social network’s community standards from live-streaming on its platform. The social network will install software to identify edited versions of violent video or images to prevent them from being shared or re-posted.
Besides considering the live streaming rules, the social network needs to invest in tracking fake news and making Facebook a no-go area for fake newsmongers. Its earlier version to track fake news can hardly be called a success. Similarly, public complaints to get a controversial post or page removed from the site take days and often the result is not encouraging. There is the rub. Several hate groups also join hands to get blocked civil rights groups through just initiating a complaint. Social media sites may not be able to cope with the number of complaints. In such circumstances, the cure to counter the virtual world’s ills lies in technology. Social networks will have to invest in technological solutions to kill fake news, hate speech and wrong use of features.



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