Imagine you are walking down the street and witness a violent crime. Would you immediately stop what you are doing and call the police to report the incident? Or would you just mind your own business and go along with your day? We should feel a moral imperative to help those who can’t help themselves.
On New Year’s Day in Chicago, four people tortured an 18-year-old disabled man while shouting hateful remarks about Donald Trump and white people. The entire incident was recorded on a Facebook Live video. Were you on Facebook on New Year’s Day? Would you have reported it if it appeared in your feed?
Recently, a 12 year-old girl broadcasted her suicide on Facebook Live. The video lasted approximately 40 minutes which is more than enough time for first responders to come and save her life. If someone who saw this had called the police instead of scrolling past it, is it possible that authorities could have saved the girl?
Crimes go unreported because witnesses fear that they might become victims themselves, and others don’t want the hassle of getting involved. While many may feel they should report a crime they witness, the law doesn’t actually require it unless unless you are asked directly during a criminal investigation. Even though Facebook is under scrutiny for providing an outlet to broadcast these crimes, they are not liable, and technically, neither are those watching a crime happen in their news feed. However, that does not mean that the viewer shouldn’t act.
Out of 20 All Saints’ students polled, 13 said that they would report a crime if seen in real life. When asked about Facebook Live and if they would report a crime they witness on their phone, 11 said they would report. Many students said that since the video was public, they would assume someone already called the police. But what if everyone assumed that?