Is there technology to prevent violent video from being posted on social media
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It was bad enough that Facebook user Steve Stephens allegedly posted video of himself murdering an elderly man he had just happened upon and unfortunately it is not the first time real-life deadly violence has played out on social media sites.
"Facebook has a team that monitors, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but a lot of times they can't see everything, so they wait for the community to report it as inappropriate and flag and that's when it draws their attention," said Tiffany Starnes, who teaches social media strategies at Loyola University in New Orleans and runs her own digital marketing company.
The crime that Stephens posted online according to police has some people asking why digital technology that has evolved to the point to connect people around the globe instantly cannot police video showing violence and stop it in its track before it is successfully posted for millions to see.
"There are companies today that have these types of video modeling technologies. There is technology available that can take a single image, look at what's on the inside of that image based on the models that they run through and verbally be able to describe that picture to a visually-impaired person, yes, that technology is available." said Kim Jovanovich, Assistant Dean in UNO's Department of Engineering.
And it is not a stretch to go from deciphering a single image to video.
"There is technology available that can take a single image, look at what's on the inside of that image based on the models that they run through and verbally be able to describe that picture to a visually-impaired person, yes, that technology is available. A video is nothing more than an assortment of images that are passing in time, so you could do that type of analysis on each frame of that video," said Professor Jovanovich.
Still he said to keep up with the amount of video being uploaded to social media sites around the world would be daunting, to say the least.
"The amount of computing power that would be needed to review every Facebook video basically create an instantaneous stop to that video being posted would be tremendous, it would be very costly, some of these companies may not even want to invest in that and so that could be a real issue," he said.
Starnes said the instant nature of social media has helped society, like some new technologies that emerged decades earlier.
"The immediacy and the access that we as a community have to these platforms does bring light to a lot of positive things, injustice that we may never have seen, war in foreign countries that we may have seen," said Starnes.
And Starnes does not believe there will be a way to "un-ring" the bell, so to speak, in terms of the growing appetite for instant social media video.
"I don't know that we're going to move backwards into a place where we don't see things instantaneously, Facebook isn't the live game out there. Periscope is on Twitter, Snapchat is live," she said.
Jovanovich said while there is image screening technology available the question of whether it is plausible to apply it to social media video is another question.
"But to stop something that has occurred it may be better to rely on the millions of people who are looking at that Facebook episode and then realizing this is inappropriate and then doing something about it, much faster than the size of the computer system that would be processing all of those uploaded videos from Facebook and other sources," he said.
Facebook did delete Stephens' account following the post of the killing.
And some experts said they do not believe more government regulations are the answer to disturbing videos showing up on social-media.
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