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Father of slain journalist asks regulators to investigate Facebook

The father of a murdered journalist urged federal regulators in a complaint filed Tuesday to force Facebook to change the way it controls content, accusing him of failing to remove footage of his daughter’s murder from its platforms.

Andy Parker, the journalist’s father, Alison Parker, told a press conference on Tuesday that the social media company was violating its own terms of service by hosting videos on Facebook and Instagram that showed the attack on his daughter .

Ms Parker, a television reporter for WDBJ in Roanoke, Va., And a cameraman, Adam Ward, were killed in August 2015 by a former colleague, who assaulted them on a broadcast.

Ms Parker, 24, and Mr Ward, 27, were pronounced dead at the scene. The former colleague later died by suicide.

In the complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, Mr. Parker and the Georgetown Law Civil Rights Clinic said that despite assurances from company executives that footage of the attack would be removed, the video continues to remake. surface on Facebook and Instagram.

“Posting violent and murderous content is not freedom of speech, it is savagery,” Parker said at the press conference.

In a statement on Wednesday, Facebook said: “These videos violate our policies and we continue to remove them from the platform as we have done since this disturbing incident first occurred.”

The company added, “We also continue to proactively detect and remove visually similar videos when they are uploaded.”

The FTC complaint said Facebook and Instagram were not reviewing flagged or flagged content in a timely manner, making it difficult to remove widely shared videos.

“Volunteers who spend a lot of time monitoring social media platforms for non-compliant content often have to wait weeks after reporting content before any response from the platform; even after these efforts, the videos often remain on the site, ”says the complaint.

The complaint said volunteers helped Parker report videos to Facebook and Instagram, but videos of the shooting either reappeared or persisted.

Two of those videos – originally posted on the day of the murders, six years ago – were posted on Facebook as late as October 6, according to the complaint. Two more, also posted in 2015, were posted on Instagram on October 5, 2021 and had yet to be deleted, he said.

The Legal Clinic has asked the FTC to force Facebook to change the way it monitors content, or face fines of hundreds of millions of dollars.

An FTC representative could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

The complaint was filed as tech giants face increasing pressure from the government, the review of which recently landed on Facebook in particular. The FTC filed a revised antitrust complaint against the company this year, and this month a whistleblower spoke to Congress about the company’s research into the damage Instagram could cause to teens and Facebook’s ability to control disinformation.

Last year, Mr. Parker and the Georgetown Law Clinic filed a complaint with the FTC accusing Google-owned YouTube of deceiving consumers by refusing to remove videos that violate its terms of service.

“Alison’s murder, shared on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, is just one of the egregious practices that are undermining the fabric of our society,” Parker said on Tuesday.

Mr Parker also called on Congress to regulate social media companies, saying, “I hope my complaint against the FTC gains ground, but ultimately Congress will have to fix social media before it does. ruin our country and the world.

In an interview on Wednesday, he also linked his complaint to the testimony of Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, about the company’s ability to control the content that appears on its platforms.

His testimony argues that social media companies have AI and the ability to clean up murder and misinformation, things they say they don’t allow on their platform, but they won’t remove them because it affects people. results, ”he said. “They monetized Alison’s murder.”