Monday, September 8, 2014

Terrorism causing the ‘net to self edit?

The recent beheading of an American journalist shocked and disgusted viewers in the west, even as it, apparently, delighted some anti-American partisans. But by far the largest and loudest voice in the aftermath came from those who, collectively, did NOT want to see that on their newsfeed. Now it seems at least one online media source is listening.

LiveLeak is known for endless available video content, and up to the second crowdsourced news content. When viewers could not find controversial or gruesome or offensive content on YouTube, they clicked over to LiveLink. But, according to a spokesman with the company, those days are over. At least where ISIS is concerned.

LiveLeak has come out and publicly said it will no longer host or make available videos of beheadings by ISIS, removing one of the terror groups major “marketing” and fear mongering tools. Here’s the statement from LiveLeak:

"We've shown the world the true horror of this form of execution more than once in the past and we cannot find any compelling reason to even be thought of as promoting the actions of this group…there is no reason."

The move surprised many media watchdogs, but Ronn Torossian says he is not surprised. From a PR standpoint, it was a smart decision. LiveLeak was teetering on a branding precipice. When YouTube blocked the videos and Twitter pulled the stills, everyone flooded to LiveLeak. That prompted decision makers there to ask a very important question: “Is this who we are to people? Snuff dealers?”

Apparently not. It may not seem like it, but in the world of the Internet, this sort of self-policing is a strong statement, and it should bode well for LiveLeak’s continued growth as a legitimate media source.

But that does not necessarily mean they won’t be willing to get their hands dirty. A follow up to the initial release clearly drew a single line - no more beheadings - but it also indicated the site would not shy away from difficult images or video deemed worthwhile from an informational standpoint.

This clear line also sends a clear message to the market. This is who LiveLeak is, like it or not. 

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