Streaming platforms valuable as crime solving tools

Social media can be used for more than fun and games

Opinion

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

It was almost a year ago on April 6, 2016 that Facebook announced a new broadcasting feature called Facebook Live. From the very beginning, the exact usage and power of what that new application could do was untested and unknown in regards to how the more general public would use it.

Sure, one had the ability to broadcast as if you were your own television station. But the unanswered question is for what purpose(s) would the new feature truly serve?

Over the months since that platform has been released, for black people, it has become the crime fighting tool. It has also documented the death of individuals either at the hand of common street criminals or by those of law enforcement.

What I appreciate most about Facebook Live is that whatever is filmed goes out on the internet to one's Facebook page. Thus, whatever is filmed will upload to the cloud and not simply reside on an individual's phone.

Similar platforms, such as Snapchat and Periscope, already existed and were popular with the younger people. As I watched the news reports about Libby German and Abby Williams, the two young teens killed alongside a hiking trail in Indiana, their decision to film their possible killer didn't prevent their death. But it did leave a clue for police to hopefully identify their killer.

Facebook Live has captured a number of incidents that have involved the death of black people at the hands of the police. It is the antithesis to the staid line that we have heard over and over again, which claimed that the suspect turned and aimed a gun at the police and they had to shoot him or her. And in what shouldn't be rare instances, has sometimes led to the police being charged.

The recent killing of 2-year-old Lavontay White Jr. and his uncle, Lazerac Collins, was inadvertently streamed live on Facebook. What was once a carefree and happy moment devolved into chaos as shots rang out ending those two people's lives.

I find it absolutely astonishing that the local politicians to this day still haven't banded together and called for whatever is needed to stem the tide of violence that is happening in the black neighborhoods. Their silence and ineptitude should be remembered on Election Day.

We can no longer tolerate elected officials who are solely concerned with a paycheck, as young people and innocent bystanders lose their lives. I can't say if calling in the National Guard is the correct solution, but Chicago desperately needs to have weeks without a killing versus hours.

Although neither the killers' faces nor the vehicle they were driving was caught on the Facebook Live broadcast, thankfully the police cameras in the area were working. The vehicle that was used in the attack allowed the police to identify the three people alleged to have been involved in the shooting. A fourth suspect was still being sought.

And, as usual, the car involved belonged to a girlfriend of one of those alleged to have been involved in the killing. He took her to work and then drove around in her vehicle. If a man doesn't have his own car, why do women give them theirs? But I digress.

These streaming video sites may not save a life. But if the video being made helps to catch and convict those who are committing crimes, their value is immeasurable. 

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