Facebook’s live streaming video feature has played a major role in several recent violent incidents, most notably when the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, a black man, was broadcast with the tool. Now, several professors have released a study examining the legal rights of people to live-stream video – and the rights of people to avoid being filmed in public places.
The professors’ study concluded that the First Amendment likely protects users’ rights to livestream video, but, on the flipside, the privacy protections are not strong enough for people being filmed on live video.
“In this study, we advocate for less legal restraint of recording and live-streaming public matters or government officials in public places, which clearly deserve First Amendment protection,” said Daxton Stewart, one of the authors of the study and a professor at Texas Christian University. “But we also call for wisdom by users and tech companies in controlling the spread of materials that may be more harmful to private individuals.”
The researchers also predict that live video will change how new privacy laws are created, and that some local government agencies will try to make it illegal to film and broadcast police actions. Through the study, the two experts recommended that Facebook and other live video providers enter into contracts with users to limit the kinds of videos that can appear on the platforms. However, until that happens, these tools will likely continue to be used to broadcast all kinds of violent or graphic content.