Social media was filled this weekend with live viral videos of protests and riots. It turns out, per the Wall Street Journal, some of the most viewed “live” clips were years old with the intent to spread misinformation.
A number of foreign-run Facebook pages appear to be spreading misleading—and widely viewed—videos about the protests in the U.S. using the platform’s live-video features https://t.co/WWyfeWM5Mj
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) June 2, 2020
“Through much of the tumultuous weekend, a popular video on [Facebook] Live purported to show real-time footage of police officers kneeling on the back of a black man’s head,” writes Jeff Horwitz. “They want a peaceful protest in Minneapolis but the police are cowards in Minnesota PERIOD!!!’ the post accompanying the video read.”
The footage discussed was taken from a 2018 arrest. The video’s page, which drew 1.6 million views, was operated out of Pakistan. As WSJ pointed out, there were a number of other misleading videos posted. Facebook took some of them down after being notified.
“Our teams have been working around the clock to find and remove violating activity since the protests started,” said a Facebook spokeswoman.
While the video was real, the way it aired is troubling. We’ve all been warned ad nauseam to fact-check news online. Recommendations to investigate if something airing live is actually live are less common.
The post’s removal and reports don’t ensure its viewers will become aware when it actually occurred. Many won’t know and have already spread the word.