On Sunday, Chicago police arrested a 14-year-old boy in connection with a sexual assault case that involved a female teenage victim and multiple male perpetrators last month. The attack was broadcasted in real-time using Facebook Live.
The police noted that they’re also looking for a 15-year-old male in connection with the crime, as well as one adult, among others. According to officials, the victim had been lured to a house where she was assaulted and wasn’t allowed to leave. She had gone missing on Sunday and only returned home the following Tuesday.
The livestream was watched by some 36 people, none of whom reported it to law enforcement at the time; it was only when one of the people who had seen the footage told a relative of the victim that the disturbing news was relayed to her mother; she then contacted the police and showed them screengrabs of the broadcast to press them into action.
We dug into some of the hard questions raised by this incident in our previous report; perhaps the most difficult one is whether social networks like Facebook could do more to assist law enforcement in identifying criminals – by sharing information about the broadcaster and their location, for example, and by using facial recognition technology to confirm the identities of the victim and other attackers in cases like this one – and whether those actions would cross boundaries of privacy.