The murdered journalist’s father, in a complaint filed Tuesday, called on federal regulators to force Facebook to change its approach to content control, accusing him of not removing footage of his daughter’s murder from its platforms.
Andy Parker, the father of journalist Alison Parker, said at a press conference on Tuesday that the social media company is violating its own terms of service by posting videos on Facebook and Instagram showing the attack on his daughter.
Ms Parker, a WDBJ TV news reporter in Roanoke, Virginia, and cameraman Adam Ward were killed in August 2015 by a former colleague who attacked them during the broadcast.
Ms. Parker, 24, and Mr. Ward, 27, were pronounced dead at the scene. Later, a former colleague committed suicide.
In a complaint filed with the FTC, Mr. Parker’s and Georgetown Law Clinic for Civil Rights said that despite assurances from company executives that footage of the attack would be removed, videos of her continued to appear on Facebook and Instagram.
“Placing violent materials and killings is not freedom of speech, it is savagery,” Mr. Parker said at a press conference.
In a statement Wednesday, Facebook said, “These videos violate our policy 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 as they are uploaded.”
The complaint to the FTC said Facebook and Instagram do not review timely tagged or reported content, making it difficult to remove widely shared videos.
“Volunteers who spend a lot of time monitoring social media platforms for offensive content often have to wait several weeks after reporting the content before any response from the platform; even after these efforts, the videos often remain on the site, ”the complaint says.
The complaint said that the volunteers helped Mr. Parker post the videos on Facebook and Instagram, but that the videos of the shooting reappear or persist.
The complaint says that two such videos, originally posted on the day of the murders six years ago, were posted to Facebook on just 6 October. The other two, also posted in 2015, were posted to Instagram on October 5, 2021 and have not yet been removed, the post said.
The legal clinic has demanded that the FTC force Facebook to change its content monitoring methods or face fines of hundreds of millions of dollars.
An FTC spokesman could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
The complaint was filed as tech giants face growing pressure from the government, whose scrutiny has recently landed on Facebook in particular. This year, the FTC filed a revised antitrust lawsuit against the company, and this month a whistleblower told Congress about the company’s research on Instagram’s harm to teens and Facebook’s ability to control misinformation.
Last year, Mr. Parker and the Georgetown Legal Clinic filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, accusing Google-owned YouTube of defrauding consumers by refusing to remove videos that violate terms of service.
“The murder of Alison, which has been featured on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, is just one flagrant practice that is 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 gets support, but ultimately Congress will have to fix social media before it destroys our country and the world.”
In an interview on Wednesday, he also linked his complaint to testimony from Frances Haugen, a Facebook informant, about the company’s ability to control content that appears on its platforms.
“Her testimony claims that social media companies have artificial intelligence and the ability to cleanse murder and misinformation – things they say they don’t allow on their platform, but they won’t delete them because it affects bottom line.” , – he said. “They monetized Alison’s murder.”