As the Derek Chauvin trial for the killing of George Floyd comes to a close Monday, Facebook said it is preparing to ward off online content inciting violence.
On Monday, attorneys began closing arguments for the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Chauvin, 45, who has been charged with second- or third-degree murder or second-degree manslaughter for Floyd’s death last Memorial Day, after three weeks of arguments in the case, which began in late March.
Facebook, which monitors content for compliance with its community standards against hate speech, graphic violence and incitement, is preparing to stop “online content from being linked to offline harm” after the verdict, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s content policy vice president, said in a statement.
“Our teams are working around the clock to look for potential threats both on and off of Facebook and Instagram so we can protect peaceful protests and limit content that could lead to civil unrest or violence,” the statement said. “This includes identifying and removing calls to bring arms to areas in Minneapolis, which we have temporarily deemed to be a high-risk location.”
Bickert added that Facebook is continuing to monitor the situation to see if there are other high-risk areas.
“We are also working to protect the memory of George Floyd and members of the Floyd family from harassment and abuse,” Bickert said. “Under our polices, we will remove content that praises, celebrates or mocks George Floyd’s death.”
A teenager recorded video footage showing Floyd, 46, an African American security guard and a community leader in Minneapolis, who was unarmed, dying as White police officer Chauvin kneeled on his neck for around 9 minutes during an arrest after a report of alleged use of a $20 counterfeit bill on Memorial Day. Chauvin and four other officers involved in the incident were fired a day later.
The viral video set off protests across the country and worldwide against police brutality and racism.
Medical experts for the prosecution said Floyd died of asphyxiation and the defense shifted the blame to underlying medical issues, carbon monoxide from a nearby squad car, and the surrounding crowd.
The “trial has been painful for many people,” Bickert said, and Facebook wants to “strike the right balance” between safety and “allowing people to speak about the trial and what the verdict means.”