“Malware Infection” by Visual Content is tagged with CC BY 2.0.
On March 24, Tire Sampson, a fourteen-year-old Missouri teenager, fell from Free Fall, an amusement ride at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida. Footage of the incident has gone viral on social media and I sadly caught the incident as I scrolled through Twitter.
I was one of the millions of people who saw this video, and I was left speechless. I think this type of content should not be shared online, especially on social media. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office attempted to remove the video, but was unsuccessful in removing it.
“While users do their best to protect themselves from graphic images, social media companies are not legally required to remove them,” says Andrew Selepak, professor of social media at UF. “There are no rules, no laws that require social media companies to censor anything or determine what is even too sensitive,” Selepak said.
Because social media platforms are not publishers, they are not responsible for the content of their users’ posts. Most social media platforms use moderators. Moderators work hard to find content that violates their policies. But the number of moderators is not equal to the number of posts shared daily.
Twitter, for example, has a “graphic violence” policy, but when you try to report the ICON Park video, you’re faced with a list of options that don’t include the said “graphic violence” option.
I prefer social media companies to ensure that feeds are cleaned of disturbing videos and images. Social media controlling what gets posted and what doesn’t would lead to protests because users won’t have the freedom to post what they want. And that’s what the First Amendment is all about. We all have the freedom to say and post whatever we want on social media as long as it doesn’t violate their community guidelines.
One solution may be to implement a disclaimer stating, “This video contains content that people may find disturbing” on content that meets the criteria.
Having a disclaimer prevents the video from auto-playing and gives the viewer the option to continue if they want to watch the video or rewind before the video starts playing.
It can be beneficial to prevent millions of people from feeling disturbed by watching content they don’t want to see.