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Facebook confirms messages sent by 18-year-old Texas school shooter

Facebook confirms messages sent by 18-year-old Texas school shooter
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 3:32 PM EDT
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EAST LONGMEADOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Our newsroom is learning more details about the actions the 18-year-old gunman took on social media before opening fire at Robb Elementary School in Texas on Tuesday.

Facebook has stepped in to clarify on some of the messages that 18-year-old Salvador Ramos sent before the shooting and said that he did not make a public post, but rather sent one-to-one direct messages.

The role of social media is coming into question following Tuesday’s deadly school shooting in Texas. Facebook confirmed Ramos sent private messages through their platform to others, informing them about what he was going to do.

We wanted to know if Facebook should have caught the shooter’s messages. Stan Prager, owner of GoGeeks in East Longmeadow, told Western Mass News it is possible, but questionable.

“…And the reason for this is that what most people don’t understand is that a human being isn’t monitoring the things that are posted to Facebook,” Prager noted.

Prager said posts and messages on Facebook are monitored by an algorithm “which is triggered by people using hate speech, offensive language or threats, or something that then the algorithm is triggered by that.”

Once the algorithm is triggered, Prager said Facebook will take action by suspending the account in question. He said this depends on the context of the post or message and can happen right away or take some time.

“I’ve known people who have had their accounts suspended on Facebook for saying something that wasn’t actually offensive, but because it was taken out of context, because the comment they made or the words they used triggered that algorithm,” Prager added.

Prager said with many people taking to social media to express their emotions, it can be hard for the algorithm to determine the context of a post and how serious the threat is.

“How do you differentiate a ticking clock, who maybe is going to smash a dish in the kitchen, or go grab a riffle?” Prager explained.

Prager said if you see something come up on your screen and if you believe the threat is real, it is important to contact your local authorities.Our newsroom is learning more details about the actions the 18-year-old gunman took on social media before opening fire at Robb Elementary School in Texas on Tuesday.

Facebook has stepped in to clarify on some of the messages that 18-year-old Salvador Ramos sent before the shooting and said that he did not make a public post, but rather sent one-to-one direct messages.

The role of social media is coming into question following Tuesday’s deadly school shooting in Texas. Facebook confirmed Ramos sent private messages through their platform to others, informing them about what he was going to do.

We wanted to know if Facebook should have caught the shooter’s messages. Stan Prager, owner of GoGeeks in East Longmeadow, told Western Mass News it is possible, but questionable.

“…And the reason for this is that what most people don’t understand is that a human being isn’t monitoring the things that are posted to Facebook,” Prager noted.

Prager said posts and messages on Facebook are monitored by an algorithm “which is triggered by people using hate speech, offensive language or threats, or something that then the algorithm is triggered by that.”

Once the algorithm is triggered, Prager said Facebook will take action by suspending the account in question. He said this depends on the context of the post or message and can happen right away or take some time.

“I’ve known people who have had their accounts suspended on Facebook for saying something that wasn’t actually offensive, but because it was taken out of context, because the comment they made or the words they used triggered that algorithm,” Prager added.

Prager said with many people taking to social media to express their emotions, it can be hard for the algorithm to determine the context of a post and how serious the threat is.

“How do you differentiate a ticking clock, who maybe is going to smash a dish in the kitchen, or go grab a riffle?” Prager explained.

Prager said if you see something come up on your screen and if you believe the threat is real, it is important to contact your local authorities.