The implications of sharing violent mobile phone recordings online

Alex Barwick from ABC Alice Springs interviews Prof Amanda Third, Young & Resilient Research Centre Co-director, regarding sharing video recordings of violent content on social media, after a fight at the local bus interchange between students was uploaded to a Facebook community group. The recordings have since been removed by Facebook for breeching their community standards.

Prof Third explains how these incidents can be an opportunity to have an important conversation in the community about “what's right, what's wrong and how we draw the line. What this illustrates is that the presence of mobile technology in everyone’s hand can escalate and amplify things quite quickly and cause all kinds of complicated effects that we don't always anticipate as we go about our day-to-day business.”

Removing content is only one part of the solution though. “When there’s violence online it can spread rapidly and quickly, it can have triggering effects, there are groups of people in our society that might be affected and there’s a general need to contain the fallout.” In this instance, the Police and Education Department played a critical role. “It’s important to make sure the people who were involved have the opportunity to work through what has happened,” Prof Third adds.

Recording instances of vicitimsation or bullying can be an important tool, especially when there is a need for transparency or to collect evidence so the victim can be protected and supported to seek redress, says Prof Third.

“What we need to be careful about is how we think about the content that's being recorded. If it's to help the person who's being victimised that's one thing. If it's to publish for sensationalist purposes is another altogether,” she clarifies.

“When people are thinking they’re recording for the community, it needs to be framed appropriately, and good citizen journalism always does that… it helps the public to understand it, and that’s what’s often missing when the content is posted quickly.”

“The line is not always clear, and we need to consistently reflect on how we use technology and why,” says Prof Third.

“For them [children and young people], it’s about learning to use technology appropriately, so when something like this happens it’s really important we take that opportunity to say that crosses the line… and make that distinction, because it is part of a learning process. Children and young people will make mistakes, we need to remember not to be too punitive, to deal with the issues that are serious of course, and also to remember that it’s all about learning to manage the technology.”

You may listen to the full interview on ABC Alice Springs here.

Note: Start listening at 41:52 for full story, or 45:04 for the interview with Prof Amanda Third.