Correction: This column has been updated to remove a reference to Gray Television. Gray is not the owner of a video taken by the murderer depicting the shooting or the subject of the FTC complaint..
On October 12, with the help of the Georgetown University Civil Rights Clinic, I filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Facebook for violating its own terms of service and removing videos of the murder of my daughter Alison. That same evening I appeared on Erin Burnett’s program on CNN.
During my interview, Erin produced a note from Facebook stating that they had removed all of the videos my team had flagged. She read this statement to me and millions of viewers. But as I experienced with my prolonged battle with Facebook, their statement was not worth the paper it was written on.
Wash, rinse, repeat – that’s the same tactic they’ve been using since it all started for me afterwards Alison, a TV reporter, was murdered while doing its job.
The answer usually looks like this: “At Facebook (or YouTube, depending on the day), we are so sorry for your unimaginable loss. Violence has no place on our platform. We take this very seriously. These videos have been deleted. And here we are, this time weeks later, with the videos Facebook claimed on National TV that they deleted, still available and easy to find.
‘I’m not surprised’
Having been through this cycle for six years now, I am not surprised. Francoise Haugen and another recent whistleblower confirmed what I’ve always maintained – that Facebook has the ability to remove violent content, misinformation, and harassment, but they won’t because that content is profitable. Alison’s murder can be monetized and highly shared for trafficking, and so they do it because they can.
What can be done? I had my turn bear witness before the Senate Judiciary Committee two years ago to refute claims of innocence from endless parades by executives of Facebook and Google. I even had a little superficial empathy of Senator Ted Cruz after the hearing. Clearly, this goodwill has resulted in no meaningful action other than generating more audiences with Mark Zuckerberg repeating the same spurious talking points.
Last year Georgetown Law and I filed a similar FTC complaint against YouTube and its parent company Google, because the video of Alison’s murder is still present on that platform as well. Since then, despite many updates and sample videos still circulating on YouTube, we’ve only heard crickets from the FTC.
Will Congress react to the pressure?
My testimony, the FTC filings, and our attempts to obtain copyright are the equivalent of throwing spaghetti on the wall, hoping something sticks. Right now everything seems to be falling apart. The FTC could come out of the shadows and so could Facebook and Google. The Federal Trade Commission has imposed multi-million dollar fines in the past, but for companies worth billions, it is little more than money. However, due to the current storm of accusations against Facebook, there are increased pressure on Congress to finally act and amend section 230.
It will require something that a dysfunctional Congress might struggle to accomplish.
So Facebook has a new name? : I’m pretty sure they’ll keep the same practices.
The murder of Alison shared on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube is just one of the egregious practices that undermine the fabric of our society. Haugen confirmed that Facebook could use artificial intelligence to stop this shameful practice, but instead their algorithms are not designed to make using Facebook as useful or as healthy as possible. They are designed to keep users hooked.
For me, the solution is simple. Remove Section 230 liability immunity. If Facebook and YouTube ever end up in court and review thousands of legitimate lawsuits, they will stop the action that made my FTC complaints necessary. Congress, stop fiddling with Rome as it burns. Do your job. Do it for everyone who has been hurt. Do it to save our country. Do it for Alison.
Andy Parker is an activist and author of “For Alison: the murder of a young reporter and a father’s fight for gun safety.”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: My daughter was murdered on television. And video is still everywhere on the Internet.