Video streaming on Facebook was created for people to share videos of their family members, pets and good times. Alarmingly, it is being used by more and more criminals to film violent crimes.
In April, the killing of an elderly man in Cleveland in Ohio sparked fear, outrage and a national debate about social media.
Police said the victim, Robert Godwin Sr., appeared to have been chosen at random so as his gruesome last moments could be watched on social media.
A report on ABC noted Steve Stephens uploaded a video on Facebook of his alleged killing of Godwin. Stephens killed himself as police closed in on him, according to Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams. The video of the killing ran for about two hours before being removed by Facebook.
The crime led to a review by Facebook about how prevent crimes being streamed on the social media.
It was not the first time a violent crime has been posted on Facebook. In Chicago, two cases made national headlines.
In early 2017, police in Chicago arrested four people for allegedly torturing a teen and live streaming the incident on Facebook Live.
Four African Americans were arrested over the alleged beating and racial taunting of a white man with disabilities on Facebook Live.
A 30-minute video showed a man tied up with his mouth covered. He cowered in the corner of a room as he was kicked and punched.
The four people were charged with a hate crime, felony aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, reported CNN.
In March, a Facebook Live incident in Chicago again made headlines. A group of teenage boys in Chicago is accused of live-streaming the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl using Facebook, reported Forbes.
Police said at one point more than 40 people were watching the attack in Facebook but nobody called 911 or contacted the authorities.
The rationale for this disturbing growth in crimes recorded on social media is unclear.
However, Ray Surette, a professor in the department of criminal justice at the University of Central Florida, calls these incidents “performance crimes.”
He argues the perpetrators commit violent acts as if they were on a stage playing to an audience for attention.
Obviously, when crimes are filmed on Facebook Live or another medium, this is important evidence for prosecutors. If you have been charged with a crime, you should never discuss details or post evidence of it on social media because that material will be used against you.
If you have been charged with a serious crime, please call our Cook County criminal defense lawyers at (312) 229-0008.