Facebook explains why it took 2 hours to take down Cleveland shooting video

A look at when Steve Stephens uploaded his first video, to when Facebook took down his account.
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At 1:11 p.m. CST Sunday, Steve Stephens posted video to Facebook that showed him shooting and killing Cleveland man Robert Godwin Sr.

For more than two hours, that footage was available to anyone who happened to stumble across it. In it, Stephens also claims he killed a dozen other people – police haven't found any victims beyond Godwin Sr. at this point, CNN reports.

Debbie Godwin, one of Godwin Sr.'s daughters, told ABC News she didn't watch the clip because that's not how she wanted to remember her dad for the last time.

"He didn't deserve to just be picked out randomly," she continued. "And then to add insult to injury you tape it while my father is begging for his life."

A nationwide manhunt for Stephens ended Tuesday morning, when Pennsylvania State Police say he shot and killed himself after a short chase with authorities.

But Facebook is facing questions about how it responds to these types of videos – and how quickly it's able to take them down.

Facebook's reporting process

Facebook's VP of Global Operations, Justin Osofsky, put out a timeline in a blog post Monday evening. It shows when Stephens first published content related to the killing, through to when Facebook took down his account.

In all, it took just over two hours for Facebook to get word of Stephens' posts, and then to block it all.

Facebook makes clear in its community standards that it "rel[ies] on people like you" to keep the space free from abusive content.

Users if they see something that might violate the site's terms of service can report it. From there, people who are members of "dedicated teams working around the world" look over the reported content, and figure out if it needs to be taken down.

That includes "thousands" of people, Osofsky writes, who work in 40-plus languages and review millions of reported items a week. That reporting gap is part of what let the Cleveland video stay up for two hours. Stephens' first clip, saying he was going to kill someone, was never reported by users.

And the next video he uploaded, where he shot and killed Godwin Sr., wasn't reported until 1 hour and 48 minutes after it went up. It then took 23 minutes for Facebook to review the reported content and disable Stephens' account – making the videos no longer viewable by the public.

The 5-minute, live-streamed video, where Stephens confesses, was reported after the broadcast ended.

"As a result of this terrible series of events, we are reviewing our reporting flows to be sure people can report videos and other material that violates our standards as easily and quickly as possible," Osofsky says.

There's also some artificial intelligence at work, but that seems to be focused on written posts, facial recognition, advertising, and AI applications, as Forbes explained recently.

Said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg Tuesday morning at a developer conference: "We have a lot of work and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening."

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