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Facebook is cracking down on live-streaming with bans for rule breakers

A woman looking at her smartphone beneath Facebook's logoA woman looking at her smartphone beneath Facebook's logo

The aim is to minimize the risk of people using it to spread harm or hate.

The news: In a blog post, Facebook said that anyone who breaks its rules will be restricted from using its “Live” feature. There will be a 30-day ban for first offenses. Previously, Facebook usually did not bar users until they had repeatedly violated its rules.

The context: The move is a response to anger over the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which was broadcast live on Facebook. It also comes ahead of an online-extremism summit in Paris cochaired by New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Arden, and France’s president, Emmanuel Macron. Arden called it a “good first step.” However, some critics say it doesn’t go far enough and want Facebook Live to be shut down.

An arms race: A major challenge after the Christchurch attack was that people shared edited versions of the video, thus making it harder for Facebook’s systems to detect. To try and tackle the problem, Facebook is spending $7.5 million to find new techniques that can detect media that has been manipulated.

World police: Facebook must be hoping that by acting first, it might avoid more punitive action by governments further down the line (see the UK, or Australia). But it’s also a reminder of the hugely powerful, and ultimately unaccountable, role it plays in policing and moderating well over 2 billion people on the internet.

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