Social media has opened the internet to an immense amount of communication. Like never before, people can follow events live, keep in contact between continents and find out what POTUS is thinking today. Undoubtedly this is a leap forward for communication; however, as the massacre in New Zealand showed the world, it is now entering an area that developers could have never imagined.
On March 15, a gunman opened fire in a mosque during Friday prayer while streaming on Facebook live. The stream was recorded and spread like wildfire across different platforms. While teams hurried to remove the videos and later the manifesto that was published, it is nearly impossible, and the video was still found hours later. Users were able to manipulate the video slightly and make it past the algorithm to post again.
It is not the first-time users posted horrific videos which were then shared millions of times. The most famous is when youtuber Logan Paul posted a video of a dead body which caused a backlash and was eventually taken down; however, one would most likely be able to find it. Once videos are there, users can find ways past the algorithm to share because they know it will get views.
This idea leads to the point that it is time for a new algorithm and a reform of social media. There are plenty of jokes about how Tumblr’s adult content algorithm is so strict that even the most innocent of posts are flagged. While it can be understood that the censoring of sexually explicit images on websites is so strict, why are the violence other related categories seemingly less policed?
While gun range videos are popular, it is reasonable to believe that they can be sacrificed for the blocking of all videos with gunshots present. Taking away the audio would allow the user to bypass this algorithm, so it must be taken one step further. The presence of a gun or a seemingly violent situation should be banned as well. The algorithms must cover all bases in order to prevent this very situation from occurring again. If the flagging protocols dealing with ideas such as guns and violence were as strict as the others, it would be much easier to control the spreading of harmful videos.
With the age that the world is in, social media can slowly turn into a weapon instead of a pastime. It is time to evaluate the damage that these platforms can and have made, and take steps to fix the issue. Taking down one video at a time can only do so much. The solution is to create a system where they do not even see the screen of another user.