CRIME

Facebook Took 36 Hours To Remove A Photo Of An Alleged Murder Victim

A graphic photo of dead woman remained on Facebook for over a day, according to reports

CRIME
REUTERS
May 31, 2016 at 6:06 PM ET

The body of Jennifer Streit-Spears, 42, was found by police on Sunday morning in Plano, TX, but many of her Facebook friends already feared the worst. Kenneth Amyx, 45, the man since charged with her murder, had posted a graphic photo of her bloody body to her Facebook page earlier that day. The gruesome image allegedly remained there for 36 hours, until Facebook determined it violated their community standards.

Police were called to Streit-Spears’ apartment after disturbing photos of the couple appeared on her Facebook page. In the photos, which have since been removed, Amyx appears, clearly alive, in a selfie shot. He appears to be covered in dirt or blood—the lighting makes it difficult to tell. The second photo, even darker, appears to be a woman who is unconscious or deceased, also covered with dirt or blood. The caption on the photos: “Please pray for us.”

According to a screenshot of the original post, obtained by Vocativ, Streit-Spears’ friends and family claim to have reported the image several times. Streit-Spears’ sister told The Daily Dot that she was told that the image did not violate community standards and that she could “block Jennifer if I didn’t like what she posted,” an automated suggestion Facebook provides when images are reported.

James “Fletch” Fletcher, a New York City-based DJ and creative director, was Facebook friends with Streit-Spears and saw the photos shortly after they were posted.

“Seeing the photos in my feed early Sunday an hour after he posted them messed with me emotionally,” Fletcher told Vocativ over email. He says he reported them to Facebook and was initially told the photos did not violate community standards. About 24 hours later, he received a follow-up that they were in violation and had been removed.

“Facebook dropped the ball on this one,” Fletcher says.

According to a local Texas CBS affiliate, it took 36 hours for the photos to be removed.

While the case to remove the photos may seem obvious in context, Facebook didn’t necessarily have those facts when reports of the photos began coming in, and the social media platform does allow graphic images to be posted in certain cases. In its community standards, Facebook acknowledges that “in many instances, when people share this type of [violent and graphic] content, they are condemning it or raising awareness about it,” however, it states that it will “remove graphic images when they are shared for sadistic pleasure or to celebrate or glorify violence.”

Facebook also contacts law enforcement when certain reports merit it, but it would not comment on whether this occurred in this case.

A Facebook spokesperson told Vocativ that “as soon as it was clear what the facts were behind this photograph, we removed it.” Facebook did not comment on how or when it became aware of the circumstances behind the photo. Facebook also did not comment on whether it would introduce new measures to prevent something like this from happening again.

Amyx was treated for wounds to his neck and left wrist that the Plano, Texas, police described as superficial. He is being held in police custody for Streit-Spears’ murder. Amyx was also wanted in two other Texas counties for indecency with a child and sex abuse of a child under 14.

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