US shooting: My heart with family, says Zuckerberg

Also, within those moments, Castille's girlfriend - Diamond Reynolds - who was sitting in the passenger seat, pulled out her cell phone and started broadcasting the bloody and emotional aftermath on Facebook Live.

In Facebook's most recent quarterly earnings, it reported a 50 percent surge in revenue, handily beating Wall Street expectations as its promotion of live video won new advertisers and encouraged existing ones to increase spending. On Thursday, several Facebook users in Dallas did the same after police were ambushed by a domestic terrorist.

Coming just one day after police shot and killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the new video sparked immediate outrage. It was online for about 10 minutes before disappearing for around an hour in what Facebook has insisted was "a technical glitch".

While it's obviously been possible to stream live video without a microwave truck or even fancy bonded cellular equipment for some time now, Facebook has now essentially placed a live truck in the palm of every user's hands. A single report flag is enough to send content to Facebook's Community Standards team, which reviews it. The team operates 24/7 all over the world.

Meanwhile, the archived versions of live streams, as in the case with Castile, have been used in TV reports after the fact. Instead, I tossed and turned and vowed not to look at my phone tomorrow.

The line is thin, and the instances of live graphic crime are becoming frequent. They rely heavily on users to report violations, which are then reviewed by employees or contractors for possible removal.

With a post on his personal Facebook page, he is also highlighting the potential power of the company's relatively new live-streaming function. "A number of groups were inaccessible for a brief period after one of our automated policies was applied incorrectly", a Facebook spokesperson told Recode. But the human-scale nature of the Reynolds video made it something else entirely. More than four million people watched one of his videos, including Zuckerberg. His post, which was widely cited in the media, had been viewed more than 5.2 million times and racked up more than 141,000 shares Friday. It was then restored with a warning labeling it as "disturbing". The latter achieved high visibility recently when Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives staged a sit-in over gun-control legislation and the Republicans cut the chamber cameras.

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These videos - and the ensuing live streams of prayer sessions and protests - are more intimate and more raw than the YouTube clips that symbolized citizen journalism a decade ago.

"Like financial markets, media move in real time and are distributed across the internet, rather than broadcast", said Mirzoeff.

There is no doubt the video of Philando Castile will play a crucial part in determining action against the police officers involved.

"These companies have done a reasonable job of being accountable to government requests, but not to their own private terms of services", said Jillian York, director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

But, what about "the more sensitive situations"? Rapidly the grief - the emotional experience of loss - will transform into mourning, the expression of it. And social media will make these two things indistinguishable. Let us know in the comments.

A still-seething Rhone teeters on the edge of deleting his Facebook account. Facebook employs thousands of moderators who sift through material to decide, based on its vague Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, what goes down and what stays up.

And down the road, what will that mean for advertisers? (And Reynolds is like the Mother Mary of media.) Suddenly, we have a focus that will live on and provide second-by-second data for historians to analyze.

  • Michael Mitchell