Facebook blames 'technical glitch' for removal of live video after fatal police shooting of black man
Facebook has said a live video showing the aftermath of a fatal shooting of a black man by police officers was temporarily removed due to a “technical glitch”.
Philando Castile was shot in Minneapolis on Wednesday night and was later taken to hospital where he later died, police said.
His girlfriend broadcast the aftermath of the shooting in a Facebook Live video, a recently-introduced feature that allows users to live stream from their smartphones.
In the 10-minute video the woman said Castile had been reaching for his licence and had been shot four times by police. “He doesn’t deserve this… Oh my God please don’t tell me he’s dead,” she said.
The video was subsequently removed from Facebook, which a spokesman attributed to a glitch. “We’re very sorry that the video was inaccessible,” Facebook said. “It was down to a technical glitch and restored as soon as we were able to investigate.”
The video had more than 1 million views before it was taken down. It was since restored with a “Warning – graphic video” notice and has now had more than 1.7 million views and been shared almost 200,000 times.
It is unclear what the technical glitch was. While Facebook allows users to report videos, for them to be removed a human moderator must decide to do so. The company has teams of contractors, many based in the Philippines, which provide round-the-clock censorship of inappropriate content.
There have been reports of Facebook moving to algorithm-based moderation, although this is believed to apply mainly to extremist content. The company has not commented except to say it is "exploring with others in industry ways we can collaboratively work to remove content that violates our policies against terrorism".
It is not the first time that Facebook Live has had to deal with controversy over live videos. In June, a man in Chicago was shot dead while broadcasting live on Facebook, and there have been fears that terrorists could use the feature to broadcast attacks.
Censorship on Facebook has become an area of concern amid the rise of the social network, which now has more than 1.6 billion users.
Mark Zuckerberg was forced to defend the company's practices after allegations that its Trending Topics section removed conservative news, while bans on breastfeeding images have also proved controversial.