TV Checks Content, Why Not Social Media?

The attack in New Zealand leaves many wondering whether brand safety in digital media will only get tougher in real-time.

At the same time, legacy media -- including TV networks and other platforms — can only ponder about their current media system -- and what keeps stuff safe.

Lots of blame is focused on the Facebook Live area regarding the tragedy in New Zealand, where 50 people were killed in an attack on a mosque last Friday. The shooter was live streaming his attack for 17 minutes.

Two days later, on Sunday, Facebook said it removed 1.5 million videos within 24 hours of the shooting, including many that had to be pulled while they were being uploaded. l

YouTube and Twitter also removed the videos. Reddit banned several pages devoted to gore and death videos. LiveLeak, a notorious site for hosting videos of graphic violence, refused to allow the New Zealand footage.

There are still estimated to be 1 million or more copies of that attack -- or edited pieces -- floating around the internet.



Blame the open social-media platform, where the best of live video has been positioned as a premium for modern digital media consumers. Now add in the hard reality of live social media video also being a big curse.

New Zealand business groups are now calling for a ban on advertising on Facebook.

Facebook has rules about this kind of content. However, in real-time, video can move quickly and multiply -- virtually impossible to deal with no matter how many “monitors” or AI-algorithms are around to police things.

Now think of legacy media platforms.

Imagine if traditional TV networks allowed the average TV viewer to go down to their local TV station affiliate to produce and program their own five-minute live program, with no editing or oversight by any TV station executive.

Think about TV stations monitoring a live TV high-speed car chase, knowing the end result might end violently.

Yes, some stuff slip does slip through the cracks on TV:

A violent ending of a high-speed car chase; a quick nipple (Janet Jackson during the live Super Bowl); or some profanity during live music award shows (from many). Now with TV networks doing variations of live TV delay -- of a few seconds or so -- many iffy or worse content situations can be stopped.

Social media? There is virtually no curation, editing or oversight prior to publication. And that’s the rub.

A social media question still exists: Do Facebook and other social media platforms operate like a news organizations? No? OK. Here’s all the reality you can stand. Unscripted.

6 comments about "TV Checks Content, Why Not Social Media?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 20, 2019 at 12:51 p.m.

    Good points, Wayne. The root of the digital probklem on this score as well as many others---fraud, placement of ads next to offensive content, etc.---is the excessive reliance on computers as opposed to people to do the job. Until that is corrected and the social media biggies set an example by hiring and training staffs of real people to flag "bad" behavior by posters on their websites, there is no solution. Computers can be helpful---like using key words and/or phrases to spot possible problems but that's all. Humans have to make the final judgement not machines---even if this costs more money.

  2. David Scardino from TV & Film Content Development replied, March 20, 2019 at 1:13 p.m.

    Amen! Thank you, Ed

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, March 20, 2019 at 2:47 p.m.

    If social media were licensed like TV stations, then they would not likely permit posted content, for fear of losing government licenses. Instead, social media operate somewhat like newspapers. Freedom of the press is guaranteed for anyone with the means to print and distribute content, largely unregulated by government. Freedom is messy. Government censorship is better?

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, March 20, 2019 at 4:57 p.m.

    I see the value and benefit of live streaming.

    The Christchurch massacre demonstrates the worst of live streaming.

    I think it would be a retrograde step to not allow, say, a kid live streaming their birthday party as they blow the candles out to their grandparwnts who couldn't make it to the party.

    Is a relatively simple answer that live streaming can only be on a one-to-one basis?

  5. Chuck Lantz from, network, March 20, 2019 at 5:18 p.m.

    I hope Wayne Friedman's excellent assessment of the problem, and especially his suggested solutions, are just the beginning.  Allowing live, unmoderated content is just asking for trouble.

    And it's hardly a new problem. Since the first days of the internet, any online communication between humans, in real time, without real time moderation, was guaranteed to quickly turn sour.  Anyone who's been around long enough to remember Citizen's Band radio will understand what happens when cheap, anonymous access to an unlicensed and unmoderated communications network is allowed.  The first "hello!" on CB radio was celebrated, but no one recalls that the second and third words were "f**k you!"

    Adequate moderation isn't free, not by a long shot. But the only options to spending a ton of money on real monitors are to shut it all down, or to live with it.   

  6. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited replied, March 21, 2019 at 8:59 a.m.

    Big deal if the grandparents has their patient pants on and had to wait 10 seconds. It won't kill them or destroy them or anyone else for that matter.

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