In Depth

How police footage will help Facebook target mass shooter live streams

Social media giant moves to curb extremist content following anger over Christchurch shootings videos

Facebook is to use footage from police body cameras to train its content moderation programmes in response to claims that it failed to prevent images of the New Zealand mosque shootings spreading across its platform earlier this year.

The social media giant will provide London’s Metropolitan Police with body cameras “for firearms training exercises”, the Financial Times reports. It also plans to supply US law enforcement agencies with wearable cameras.

Images captured by the cameras will then be used to train artificial intelligence (AI) powered content moderation systems to more quickly identify and remove first-person footage of real-life shooting incidents, the FT adds. 

The agreement is the latest move by Facebook to limit extreme content on its platform. In May, the company employed a “one-strike policy”, where users sharing violent content - such as a statement from an extremist group “without context” - would be blocked from using Facebook Live, says Sky News

Why Facebook was criticised for its handling of the New Zealand shootings

On 15 March, 51 people were killed when a “lone attacker opened fire during Friday prayers” at two mosques in Chirstchurch, The Sun says. 

The gunman live-streamed the attack for 17 minutes through Facebook, where the footage remained for a further 12 minutes before being taken down, says Sky News. Some 200 people watched the stream live, though 1.5 million videos of the attack were uploaded and subsequently removed.

Facebook was criticised for failing to identify the stream and for leaving footage of the attack on its platform “weeks” after the event, according to Engadget.

How police footage could prevent future violent live-streams

In its defence, Facebook said in a statement that its moderation algorithms “did not have enough content depicting first-person footage of violent events to effectively train our machine learning technology.

“That’s why we’re working with government and law enforcement officials in the US and UK to obtain camera footage from their firearms training programs – providing a valuable source of data to train our systems.”

The Met Police’s assistant commissioner for specialist operations, Neil Basu, believes that Facebook’s cameras may also benefit police “in their response to such incidents”, The Daily Telegraph reports. 

The footage recorded by the Met will also be distributed through the Home Office to other tech firms developing software aimed at identifying mass shootings broadcast on social media, the newspaper adds.

Recommended

UK’s updated Covid travel rules explained
Covid-19 test centre at Heathrow Terminal 5
Getting to grips with . . .

UK’s updated Covid travel rules explained

Book of the week: The Contrarian by Max Chafkin
Mike Pence, Donald Trump and Peter Thiel
In Review

Book of the week: The Contrarian by Max Chafkin

The Omicron threat
An image of Santa Claus at a Christmas Market in central London
Why we’re talking about . . .

The Omicron threat

BT: a game of fantasy M&A? 
Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani 
Behind the scenes

BT: a game of fantasy M&A? 

Popular articles

Is Boris Johnson’s authority ‘evaporating’?
Boris Johnson
Behind the scenes

Is Boris Johnson’s authority ‘evaporating’?

Is World War Three looming?
Xi Jinping
In Depth

Is World War Three looming?

Vladimir Putin and his mysterious love life
Vladimir Putin and his now ex-wife Lyudmila Putina
Profile

Vladimir Putin and his mysterious love life

The Week Footer Banner