UPDATE: Facebook has taken the profile in question offline. This post has been updated to reflect their follow-up response.
File this one under learning to live in a social media world.
I’ve seen a lot of awful things in my television news career.
This is one of them.I’ll spare you most of the details. During our noon newscast, I received breaking news details from my producer of a man who allegedly killed his wife inside of his home. While sad, this story is only one of dozens with a similar storyline. Murders, deaths and accidents are nothing new in South Florida any given week of the year as I report on them often. But in this case, it’s what happened afterwards that took me completely by surprise.
Hours after our report, I was at my home office computer and noticed a colleague of mine had posted this story on Facebook. The alleged killer, 31-year old Derek Medina of South Florida, had reportedly taken an image of his dead wife and posted it on Facebook. He posted his dead wife on Facebook. It was shared publicly. For those of you who don’t use Facebook, the image was posted for anyone to see. Most Facebook users set privacy filters on their personal images so only their selected friends can see them.
Seconds before the image was posted, he left a chilling message to his Facebook friends (image below and also public). I could see it, you could see it and if I had kids, they could have seen the image of the dead woman and the chilling, alleged admission to what had happened.
The image remained on the website 3-4 hours. I couldn’t understand why. I figured Facebook had to be aware of the image. I wouldn’t want my kid seeing this image, so I (assuming others alike) clicked the Report/Mark As Spam.
Since I’ve never reported anything on Facebook before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But doing so leads to several dialogue boxes asking for information like ‘what type of violation you perceived it to be’, ‘why you felt it was offensive’, etc. The best option I could pick from four total options was: ‘Graphic Violence‘.
About 45-minutes later, I received a response from Facebook stating that the image wasn’t going to be taken down. Facebook reviewed the photo and found it didn’t violate their community standard on graphic violence. Here’s the response:
To Facebook’s credit, they removed the man’s profile page somewhat soon after I received the above response. I’m not sure if that’s due to a law enforcement request, numerous Facebook users’ reports of if they finally realized the gravity of the situation through our media reports.
We’ll most likely never know. But here is the update to the response they sent after I checked it about an hour later:
What makes this story even more chilling is that the man had posted a cover photo of himself, the woman and a 10-year-old girl just a day before the incident took place. All looked happy. I won’t be posting the image of the deceased woman that was left online for nearly five hours. I have included some images from the man’s profile before the page was taken down. But this was a good lesson on social media. Information travels fast, but reaction to a situation doesn’t always keep pace.