Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Family of retiree whose slaying was posted on Facebook files suit

Robert Godwin Sr. was fatally shot in a slaying that was recorded on Facebook Robert Godwin Sr. was fatally shot in a slaying that was recorded on Facebook
Sherri Watson | 01 February, 2018, 03:05

Two days after the shooting and a consequent nationwide manhunt, Stephens was found dead in Erie County, Pennsylvania after he shot and killed himself.

Cops said Stephens killed Robert Godwin, a 74-year-old with 10 children and 14 grandchildren, at random on April 16, and broadcast the murder to Facebook.

The suit alleges negligence and failure to warn by Facebook and related defendants that assist its data mining operation. The suit also claims Facebook "possessed this knowledge, and the ability to alert law enforcement, with more than sufficient time to act and prevent Robert Godwin, Sr.'s death".

According to USA Today, the lawsuit, filed on January 19, alleges the company was negligent and failed to warn authorities of a possible threat. Stephens recorded the crime and posted the video of it on his Facebook page, making the video go viral.

The lawsuit, filed on January 19 by another one of Godwin's daughters, Debbie Godwin, said Robert Godwin left behind 10 children and "his senseless murder. created irreparable damage and sadness to his family".

"We want people to feel safe using Facebook, which is why we have policies in place prohibiting direct threats, attacks, serious threats of harm to public and personal safety and other criminal activity", Facebook Associate General Counsel Natalie Naugle told Law&Crime in an emailed statement. He eventually killed himself after a police chase.

The issue of how Facebook moderates misuse of its platform has been a fraught one for the company.

"Still, the Facebook defendants took no action in response to the information they collected", the suit said. "And we have a lot of work and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening".

The family is seeking compensatory and punitive damages over $25,000.

As a result of this awful 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.

"The lawsuit says Facebook has the ability to "cull, mine, analyze, and synthesize information" collected by individuals in real-time".

We disabled the suspect's account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the murder video, and two hours after receiving a report of any kind.

"We sympathise with the victim's family, who suffered such a tragic and senseless loss".

Freidman is not involved in the lawsuit, but said the lawsuit presented by Godwin's family could prompt significant change.