The family of a man whose murder was streamed live on Facebook are suing the social network, accusing them of failing to notify authorities about his killer’s threats.
Victim Robert Godwin Sr. was picked out at random and fatally shot as he walked along a road in Cleveland, Ohio, on Easter Sunday last year.
His killer Steve Stephens shared a video, that was watched by millions, of him pulling up in his car next to the 74-year-old, saying: “Found me somebody I’m going to kill, this guy right here, this old dude.”
The lawsuit for wrongful death and negligence states the violent acts of Mr Stephens “could have been prevented” had Facebook acted on his threats.
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“This lawsuit seeks to hold the Facebook defendants responsible… including their failure to take any action in response to a known and credible threat of violence,” it adds.
Someone just shared this picture of Robert Godwin, Sr. with me. Rest in heaven sir, you didn't deserve this. May your family have peace. pic.twitter.com/aik94byD1g
— Tia A. Ewing (@TIA_EWING) April 17, 2017
The lawsuit alleges Facebook was negligent because it has extensive data-mining capabilities but didn’t catch and report the shooter’s threats of violence before the killing.
In another video posted the same day Stephens boasted about killing 13 people, adding: “I got a lot of built-in frustration and anger man. I snapped. I’m about to keep on killing until they catch me.”
The 37-year-old Stephens killed himself two days later after a five-state manhunt and a police chase in Erie, Pennsylvania. Police don’t believe he carried out other killings despite his claims.
Facebook, who faced online criticism for taking two hours to remove the video, expressed sympathy for Mr Godwin’s family and noted that content violating Facebook’s policies is removed when users report it.
“We have lot more to do here,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at Facebook’s F8 developers conference last year following the killing.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr. We have lot of work and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”