The family of Robert Godwin Sr., a Cleveland man whose killing was shared on Facebook video, has sued the platform for negligence and wrongful death. Fox 8 Cleveland reports that the suit was filed on January 19th, accusing Facebook of conduct that was “intentional, willful, malicious, in bad faith, and in reckless disregard for the right of Mr. Godwin.” It says Facebook should have spotted and alerted police to a video where Godwin’s shooter announced his intent to kill, shortly before he uploaded a video of the actual shooting.
When Godwin was killed in April 2017, Facebook faced criticism for its response to the incident. It left the video of Godwin’s death online for nearly two hours, and it didn’t catch a brief live video of suspect Steve Stephens confessing to murder until after the stream had ended. As The Associated Press reports, Godwin’s family alleges that Facebook’s wealth of information and data-mining tools should have helped it act sooner.
Facebook initially said that nobody reported the video where Stephens made threats and that nobody reported the video of the killing for nearly an hour. It later said that more people had flagged both videos, but only after Godwin’s death. Nonetheless, the company promised to reexamine its system for flagging inappropriate content, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”
In a statement to Fox 8, Facebook associate general counsel Natalie Naugle said, “We give people tools to report content that violates our policies, and take swift action to remove violating content when it’s reported to us.” She offered condolences to Godwin’s family, “who suffered such a tragic and senseless loss.”