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The father of a television journalist who was killed live by a disgruntled former colleague has demanded action against Facebook for failing to remove images of his shooting death in 2015.
Andy Parker, father of the murdered 24-year-old Alison Parker, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Tuesday to hold the social media giant responsible for allowing graphic video to circulate on its platforms six years later.
Television news reporter Alison Parker and her colleague, cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were filming a segment live for local Virginia station WDBJ-TV on August 26, 2015.wikipedia
Onlookers at home watched as 41-year-old former co-worker Vester Lee Flanagan II shot them dead, who then fled before committing suicide.
In addition to the footage streamed live through Ward’s own camera, Flanagan also filmed his attack with a GoPro and uploaded it to social media that day.
In the complaint, filed by Parker and attorneys at the Georgetown Law Civil Rights Clinic, Parker says her family still faces videos of her daughter’s murder on Facebook and her sister service Instagram, while social media users the heartbreaking images resurface.
Parker says this is despite the fact that senior executives have assured him that all copies of the images will be removed.
He claims the company is violating its own terms of service by submitting videos glorifying the violence.
“The reality is that Facebook and Instagram assigned the responsibility to the victims and their families to monitor the graphic content, which requires them to relive their worst moments over and over again to stop the proliferation of these videos,” says the complaint.
Alison Parker, 24, and her cameraman colleague Adam Ward, 27
The complaint says that Facebook is engaging in deceptive business practices by violating its own terms of service and misrepresenting the platform’s security and how difficult it is for users to remove harmful content.
Parker also says that she “cannot bear the thought that her daughter’s murder videos are being used to promote dangerous conspiracy theories, for monetary gain, or simply for pleasure or shock value.”
At the time of the shooting, conspiracy theorists shared the images claiming it was a hoax.
Three videos of the murder were reportedly posted on Instagram on October 5, followed by two videos on Facebook the next day, Vice reported.
The videos were reported to the social media giant but were not removed, the outlet reported.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Parker previously worked with the Georgetown Legal Clinic to file a similar FTC complaint against Google and its YouTube service.
A team of volunteers helps Parker and her family find and report instances of the images circulating online.
The FTC generally does not disclose whether or not it has decided to investigate a complaint.
Flanagan attacked his former colleagues live during a lighthearted segment in which Ward filmed Parker while interviewing Vicki Gardner, then CEO of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce, about a local event.
Television footage shows the look of horror on Parker’s face as gunshots ring out and the camera falls to the ground, revealing the killer standing over Ward, pointing a gun at him.
Footage of Flanagan shows his arm extended from him in front of him pointing a gun before opening fire as Parker tries to flee before being shot.
Gardner was also shot and wounded in the attack, but survived.
Flanagan posted the images he filmed on social media immediately after executing his former colleagues.
He also took to Twitter to voice his complaints against the reporter and the cameraman.
Flanagan also faxed a 23-page manifesto with a suicide note to ABC News saying he was motivated to go out and buy a gun after the Charleston Church killings in June.
A manhunt began and police found Flanagan five hours later, where he shot himself and committed suicide.
Flanagan, known professionally as Bryce Williams, had worked at the CBS affiliated station in Moneta, Virginia, before being fired two years before the 2015 attack.
The complaint against Facebook is just the latest issue to hit the scandal-ravaged company in recent weeks.
On October 4, Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms went offline for seven hours in a blackout that left billions of people around the world cut off from their usual lines of communication.
This marked the longest outage the company has endured in 13 years, costing the company $ 100 million in revenue and renewing calls for its dissolution.
The same week, a former employee-turned-whistleblower testified before Congress about the dangers of Facebook to youth and democracy.
Frances Haugen, who previously worked as a product manager in her disinformation department, told a Senate Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday that Facebook bosses “put their astronomical profits over people.”
Haugen has caused Facebook a major headache in recent weeks after leaving the company and taking with him a trove of tens of thousands of pages of internal company documents.
She accused the network of contributing to the Capitol riots by disabling online safeguards too soon after the presidential election.
Alison Parker Quick and Facts
- Andy Parker filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission Tuesday to hold Facebook accountable for allowing the footage to circulate on its platforms
- TV reporter Alison Parker, 24, and her cameraman colleague Adam Ward, 27, were filming a segment live for local Virginia station WDBJ-TV on August 26 2015
- Viewers watched as they were shot dead by former co-worker Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, who then went on the run before committing suicide
- The murders were captured on both Ward’s camera and by Flanagan, who filmed it using a GoPro and uploaded it to social media that day