Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday that in response to a spate of violent incidents broadcast live on the social media platform, the company will add thousands of new staff who will monitor live videos.
"Over the last few weeks, we've seen people hurting themselves and others on Facebook — either live or in video posted later," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. "It's heartbreaking, and I've been reflecting on how we can do better for our community."
He wrote that the company will add 3,000 people to its community operations team, which reviews videos reported by Facebook users. The team currently employs 4,500 people, according to Zuckerberg.
"These reviewers will also help us get better at removing things we don't allow on Facebook like hate speech and child exploitation," Zuckerberg wrote. "And we'll keep working with local community groups and law enforcement who are in the best position to help someone if they need it — either because they're about to harm themselves, or because they're in danger from someone else."
He added that the company is building tools to make it simpler to report videos to Facebook staff.
The announcement comes less than a month after law enforcement fanned out across five states in a massive manhunt for a man who uploaded to Facebook a video that appeared to show him shooting and killing an innocent man.
The site first began to tweak its video monitoring policies in July 2016, after a Minnesota man, Philando Castile, was filmed by his girlfriend as he died after being shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. Since then, similarly gruesome videos have appeared on the platform in increasing numbers.
In January, four people who were later charged with hate crimes were watched by horrified viewers in Chicago as they appeared to beat and torture a mentally disabled man.
In February, also in Chicago, a man and a toddler were shot and killed while in a car with the boy's mom. That was also caught on Facebook Live.
That same month, an alleged gang rape was live streamed in Sweden.
In March, a mom tracked down the Chicago chief of police to tell him she witnessed her daughter's sexual assault on Facebook Live. Dozens reportedly watched that video as it happened.
Zuckerberg's announcement did not address one frequent criticism of the company's video monitoring — that, unlike YouTube, Facebook does not proactively monitor posts unless they've been flagged by users, potentially slowing the process by which the company can respond to videos in violation of the site's rules.
Still, Zuckerberg wrote that the company has had at least one success in preventing a tragedy.
"Just last week, we got a report that someone on Live was considering suicide. We immediately reached out to law enforcement, and they were able to prevent him from hurting himself. In other cases, we weren't so fortunate," Zuckerberg wrote.
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