Live Streaming and What Parents Need to Know

Facebook Live Audience” by Blogtrepeneur is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Last month a 14-year-old broadcast her own suicide on Facebook Live. It spread across the web. This happened less than 15 miles away from where I live. In Chicago police charged four people with kidnapping, battery, and hate crimes. They had posted a video in which they bound and beat a person with disabilities. Over the last year, Facebook has struggled to remove or moderate videos of abuse, violence.

Facebook Live: A New Medium

What Facebook Live offers users isn’t new; it is new to Facebook (Since December 2015). People can now share videos on major players such as YouTube, Snapchat, Vine, and Instagram. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, “Live is like having a TV camera in your pocket. Anyone with a phone now has the power to broadcast to anyone in the world. This is a big shift in how we communicate. It’s going to create new opportunities for people to come together.” Facebook has 1.86 billion users worldwide that can all be posting and streaming at any given time.

On Wednesday night, the Senate Majority Leader silenced Senator Warren. She was impugning a fellow senator’s character. She took to Facebook Live to finish her remarks. I felt like I was watching something live of importance and that I was supporting it as well.

The Dark Side of Live Streaming

Live content comes with dangers that parents and educators should be aware of. Adults can view and follow children with ease. Kids can give out their social media details for random followers to connect with them. People can comment while during live broadcasts and some people are mean and brutal. Kids live broadcast alone in their bedrooms. Some apps have options to send virtual items to others so beware of any connected bank accounts. Children (as young as 12 or 13) were often found to hide conversations from their parents.

Corporate Responsibility​

Facebook has a real opportunity to showcase breaking news and intimate personal moments. These behind-the-scenes stories can come from almost anywhere. TV networks are struggling to keep up. Zuckerberg recently said that Facebook is “a tech company, not a media company.” It will be hard for the company to keep the two things entirely separate. Decisions will no longer be so simple for the platform. It will be seeking input from “law enforcement officials and safety advocates.” This will allow more images and stories without posing safety risks. The goal is also to avoid showing graphic images to minors and others who do not want to see them. It is important to remember Freedom of Speech. It is also important to remember that everyone may not be satisfied. Facebook’s community standards state that “Because of the diversity of our global community, please keep in mind that something that may be disagreeable or disturbing to you may not violate our Community Standards.”

Safe use of the internet has become a central issue of social media. The Miami Gardens girl was just one of several similar episodes of young people and adults using these systems to kill themselves publicly. Others have sparked chaos with fake news items, identity theft and information hacking.

Safety Net

The goal is to create a culture of respect for human life, of responsibility on social media. A lot of people become desensitized to issues on social media. This may be due to the lack of direct contact and the anonymity of the Internet. When a child is on social media, they should be treated as if they were out somewhere interacting with people. The same concerns you would have with a child going to the mall, you should have when your child is logged on to Facebook or Twitter or any social media.

Adults can take simple steps to ensure experiences are as safe and as enjoyable as possible. What has been your experience with live streaming? Do you know which social media apps your children are using to get their daily “news”?