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Facebook Announces Restrictions To Its Live Feature

May 15, 2019
Originally published on May 15, 2019 6:21 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

Facebook has just announced a new restriction for its livestreaming features.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Yeah, they announced this change yesterday. And essentially it says that users of Facebook would be banned from posting on Facebook Live - just for a period of time - if they had violated the company's user rules in some way.

And this is coming, of course, after the horrendous attack in New Zealand - the attack on the mosques in Christchurch a couple of months ago. The gunman had livestreamed that massacre.

New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, at the time, issued a call to address the issue.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRIME MINISTER JACINDA ARDERN: The security risks that we've experienced means that it is time for companies and governments to come together to address the issues we experienced on the 15 of March.

MARTIN: Jacinda Ardern is in Paris today, where she is expected to push governments, and also these tech companies, to commit to combating the spread of extremism on social media.

KING: Heather Kelly is CNN, San Francisco, technology editor. She's been following this story carefully.

Good morning, Heather.

HEATHER KELLY: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

KING: So this is one change that Facebook is making, but it seems as though it may be significant. Walk us through what exactly is changing about their policy.

KELLY: Sure thing. So it's actually a very narrow and specific new rule that they're kind of enacting here. It is going to only apply to Facebook Live. And they're also being a little vague about it. But anybody who violates certain policies will get kind of a one-strike rule, and immediately they will be banned from Facebook Live for a set period of time. It sounds like they're going to start with 30 days, a second strike could be longer. And eventually, they could be kicked off of Facebook Live or even Facebook itself.

And what's interesting is Facebook isn't actually saying which rules will kind of fall into this. It does say that anybody violating its dangerous organizations and individuals policy could be banned from Facebook Live. And that's essentially anybody that is basically supporting a terrorist organization or posting a link to a terrorist organization, perhaps without enough context to make it really clear where they stand.

KING: Facebook - as Rachel pointed out - says they're doing this because of this massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand. The man who committed those attacks livestreamed them on Facebook. Would these changes have stopped him or someone like him from being able to post? Do we know that?

KELLY: Facebook told me yesterday that this would have actually applied to the shooter. If these rules had been enacted before - he had apparently violated some Facebook rules, we don't know which, previously and he would have had a ban on his Facebook livestreaming.

What's interesting, though, is, you know, hypothetically, if that did happen, he would have known that he was banned. He could have started a new account. He could have found a way around it. We don't really know how it would play out in that hypothetical.

KING: Facebook is often slammed for not taking responsibility when things like this happen on its platforms. Does this policy seem to point to a shift in taking responsibility?

KELLY: Again, it's such a narrow policy, it's really hard to read too much into it. It does address one kind of way that somebody might broadcast hate speech on the platform. But there are tons of other ways that people are kind of using Facebook to spread hate speech, conspiracy theories - all sorts of what it kind of calls hateful speech. And it's not really going to address all those or fix all those. It's just fixing this one situation that happened exactly two months ago.

KING: CNN San Francisco technology editor Heather Kelly joining us via Skype.

Heather, thank you so much.

KELLY: Sure thing.

KING: And we should note that Facebook is a sponsor of NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.