The suspect, who has been identified in reports as Larossi Abballa, is said to have stabbed an off-duty policer office in front of the officer’s home. He then went inside to take the officer’s wife, who was also on the police force, and their 3 year-old son hostage.
Abballa then used Facebook Live to broadcast from inside the home, and also posted photos of the victims to his Facebook page, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. Police eventually stormed the home and killed the suspect, recovering the body of the female police officer and finding the 3 year-old alive.
Abballa’s Facebook profile has since been taken down. But the case also goes to show how difficult it is to police broadcasts on platforms like Facebook Live and Periscope in real time. Facebook does allow users to report inappropriate content on its platform, including live broadcasts, but it’s unclear how quickly the company can respond to these kinds of reports. (Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.)
This isn’t the first time a live streaming platform has been used to broadcast harmful or potentially life-threatening content. Earlier this year, a teenager in Ohio live-streamed a rape on Periscope without intervening. And in 2008, a 19-year-old committed suicide while broadcasting on Justin.tv, a since-defunct pioneering live streaming platform.