Dozens watched a Facebook Live stream of sexual assault (updated)

No one called the police.
Billy Steele
B. Steele|03.22.17

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It's no secret that Facebook has its hands full dealing with graphic and violent content being streamed live on the site. Last summer, Antonio Perkins was streaming an otherwise normal evening when he was shot. There have been other cases of graphic footage being streamed on Facebook Live as well. The most recent incident involves the sexual assault of a teenager in Chicago.

Chicago police say that a 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by multiple suspects last weekend and that the ordeal was streamed live on Facebook. Police confirmed to The Washington Post that the girl's family reported her missing Sunday. Family members say the girl left for a trip to the store and was later spotted on the livestream. She was found Monday and police are continuing to investigate the incident. Facebook has taken down the video.

"This is a hideous crime and we do not allow that kind of content on Facebook," a company spokesperson told Engadget. "We take our responsibility to keep people safe on Facebook very seriously and will remove videos that depict sexual assault and are shared to glorify violence."

While most of what's broadcast live on Facebook is perfectly fine, the company explained that it works "around the clock" to review any questionable content that's reported by its users. Of course, that system requires any graphic or violent videos to be reported in the first place. In this case, Chicago police say "40 or so" people watched the assault and no one called 911.

Facebook was heavily criticized for reportedly taking two weeks to remove a video of a 12-year-old girl livestreaming her suicide in late December. According to The Washington Post, by the time the company had removed the footage, it had also popped up (and was removed) on YouTube. In early January, four people streamed themselves attacking a mentally disabled teen. Live video is a huge deal for Facebook right now, but until it figures out how to keep acts of violence from its users' News Feeds, we'll continue to hear about these incidents being broadcast on a regular basis.

Update: This post has been updated with a response from Facebook.

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