A lawsuit has been filed against Facebook by the family of the Robert Godwin Sr., the man whose shooting death was captured on video and uploaded on the social media network.
The lawsuit, filed on Jan. 19, alleges that the social media network was negligent and failed to warn authorities of a possible threat.
Steve Stephens was named as the man who shot and killed Godwin Sr. on Easter Sunday, streaming the fatal shooting on Facebook. Stephens was later found dead inside a car in Erie, Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit claims Stephens wrote a Facebook post with threatening thoughts on Easter Sunday ,minutes before he documented the fatal shooting.
The violent events led to Facebook issuing a statement and Mark Zuckerberg addressing the events at the company's annual developer conference.
"We have a full road map of products to help build groups and community... help build a more informed society... help keep our communities safe,” Zuckerberg said. “And we have a lot more to do here. And we're reminded of this, this week, by the tragedy in Cleveland. And, our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr.. And we have a lot of work and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening."
The lawsuit notes Facebook’s “sophisticated algorithms” and “data mining” but says the social network didn't take any action when the first post was made by Stephens. Facebook said the violent video was removed 23 minutes after Facebook was first notified of it.
"What this lawsuit is doing is trying to take that, the ability of Facebook to identify every aspect of a person, and extend that to a duty to keep the community safe," said Cleveland attorney and law professor Ian Friedman after reviewing the lawsuit.
Freidman is not involved in the lawsuit, but says the lawsuit presented by Godwin's family could prompt significant change.
"The question that’s going to be answered here, is what is Facebook’s duty, duty of care?"
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, costs, expenses and attorney fees, and “any further relief” that the court “may deem appropriate.”
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