Access to Facebook Live May Be Restricted for Prior Violations of Community Standards

The social network continues to respond to the New Zealand terrorist attacks

Facebook said it is prepared to work with the New Zealand government Oleksii Liskonih/iStock

In the wake of the heat Facebook is catching over the shooter in the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, using Facebook Live to broadcast his heinous acts, the social network is exploring ways to restrict who can use the livestreaming feature.

Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a post late Friday on the Instagram blog that factors such as prior violations of Facebook’s community standards could be used if the social network moves forward with restricting access to Facebook Live.

She added that the social network is investing in researching better technology to more quickly identify edited versions of violent videos and images and prevent their resharing, writing, “While the original New Zealand attack video was shared live, we know that this video spread mainly through people resharing it and re-editing it to make it harder for our systems to block it; we have identified more than 900 different videos showing portions of those horrifying 17 minutes. People with bad intentions will always try to get around our security measures. That’s why we must work to continually stay ahead. In the past week, we have also made changes to our review process to help us improve our response time to videos like this in the future.”

Sandberg also said the attacks in Christchurch were designated as acts of terrorism, so any praise, support or representation of the attacks violates Facebook’s community standards.

Facebook is using artificial intelligence to find and remove hate groups in Australia and New Zealand, including the Lads Society, the United Patriots Front, the Antipodean Resistance and National Front New Zealand.

She also reiterated the social network’s decision earlier this week to ban praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism on Facebook and Instagram.

In New Zealand itself, Sandberg said Facebook will provide support to four local well-being and mental health organizations and work with its existing youth partners to co-design additional education around peer support and resilience.

She added that the social network is prepared to work with the Royal Commission to review the role that Facebook and other online services play in similar attacks, as well as with the government on future regulatory models covering topics like content moderation, elections, privacy and data portability.

She wrote, “We are committed to reviewing what happened and have been working closely with the New Zealand Police to support their response. In the immediate aftermath, we took down the terrorist’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, removed the video of the attack and used AI to proactively find and prevent related videos from being posted. We have heard feedback that we must do more—and we agree. In the wake of the terrorist attack, we are taking three steps: Strengthening the rules for using Facebook Live, taking further steps to address hate on our platforms and supporting the New Zealand community.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.