Social media is a very important tool in this age of being connected to everyone. However, it is nothing more than a tool and as such it can be used for good as well as bad. An example of the latter came to light recently, when murderer Steve Stephens broadcast the killing of an unidentified elderly man on Facebook on Sunday. Facebook has issued a statement about the heinous event even as police continues with its manhunt for Stephens.

In its statement to the journalists, Facebook said:

This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook. We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook, and are in touch with law enforcement in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety.

Stephens also broadcasted a couple of other videos in which he claimed to have committed a string of other murders as well. He also vowed to commit other murders and kill as many people a possible. Definitely not the kind of man you would want anywhere near you. The police has already mounted a manhunt and has encouraged users to provide any information they can about his whereabouts.

Meanwhile, this case brings the helplessness of social media platforms in curtailing the broadcasting of such content. While we may condemn violence, it also pulls a lot of people when they can watch it from their homes, horrified yet safe. There have been calls to pull down such content and Facebook actually deletes such content fairly quickly. However, considering the reach it has, even that quickly is often too late.

This also brings a debate that has been raging for some time to the fore. Can users who watch such video but fail to report it be charged legally? This is a very complicated situation and the enforcement of the rule would undoubtedly lead to some major headaches. However, how else do you keep people from watching these videos and doing nothing when the social media platforms themselves fail. This is a pretty complex conundrum and one we need to solve quickly.

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