Friday 11 September 2020

Social media giants delete evidence of criminality

The story relates to extremists avoiding justice because the tech giants fail to archive social media posts of violence but I would like to extend that to animal abuse and cruelty which is so bad that it is a crime. I have bumped into examples of animal abuse on social media websites which is evidence for a potential successful prosecution under animal welfare statutes. It is not uncommon but the criminals are becoming more savvy.

Social media images can be used as evidence in crime
Image in the public domain

A report by Human Rights Watch found that social media websites were removing violent imagery without preserving a copy which denies future prosecutors the chance to access vital evidence in potential future prosecutions.

Human Rights Watch's report is called Video Unavailable and it was published yesterday. They want social media websites to archive imagery which can be used as evidence. Social media website were indeed caught flat-footed when terrorist organisations promoted their objectives through video and still images. They social media sites reacted quite strongly partly because advertisers were distraught at the fact that their adverts were being associated with violence of the worst kind.

Algorithms perhaps driven by artificial intelligence nowadays are used to pick out these images and videos and delete them. I am a great fan of artificial intelligence but they need refining currently and they need rewriting to preserve evidence. I don't know whether these algorithms are written to detect animal abuse and animal cruelty images and videos. I would hope that they are. Apparently some algorithms are programmed to filter out posts and images before the content is published. This, too, is detrimental in terms of accruing evidence against criminals.

We all know, including the FBI in America, that animal cruelty is linked to a progression to violence against people. Therefore it is an important part of the criminal world and the investigation of serious crime.

Social media posts have helped to convicted war criminals. These posts have also helps human rights groups and investigative journalist to highlight abuse.

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