The families of two people in B.C. who were recently assaulted are questioning the actions of some witnesses who recorded the attacks, then shared them on social media.
Last week in Kelowna, two teenage girls were attacked by another group of teens while waiting for the bus, with one victim telling Global News that she was punched in the face multiple times. The assault was recorded and reportedly shared online.
Read more: B.C. teen scared after attack at bus stop
“This is so much more than a video. This is a trophy for the person who took the video. This is going to impact the people that are being assaulted for a long time,” said the victim’s father. Global News is not publishing the family’s names to protect their safety.
“It’s perpetual abuse. It’s defamation of character.”
Said the girl’s mother: “I think if someone is actually really needing help and it’s more important for you to film that than to actually help them, that should be chargeable.”
Kelowna teen and her friend attacked at bus stop
Recording an assault or other criminal act and posting it to social media is not a crime, even if it is extremely graphic.
“The only time that you could get into an area that may attract criminal penalties for sharing that type of information is potentially in the case where you’re encouraging the activity that’s depicted in the video,” Vancouver criminal lawyer Kyla Lee told Global News.
Earlier this week, 37-year-old Paul Schmidt was fatally stabbed out front of a Starbucks in Vancouver. He’d gone there with his wife and young daughter.
A gruesome video of the attacked was recorded by a number of bystanders and posted to social media.
Both police and Schmidt’s family pleaded with the public to not share, or even watch, the horrific footage.
“Someone took my brother’s life yesterday and another person filmed it (do NOT watch) instead of calling the police,” his stepsister, Jessica, said in a post on Facebook.
“I am sick about this. My family is sick about this. … All I need anyone to do is please turn in all evidence to the police.”
Should sharing graphic crime scene video be punishable by law?
Each social media platform enforces its own terms of service, and prohibiting videos of violent crimes is solely up to the provider, since the government does not regulate what can be posted.
“Having a social media platform have to play whack-a-mole with a video that might become evidence in a criminal matter every time it shows up, is asking a lot … particularly because lots of them are not based in Canada,” Lee said.
An arrest was made following the attack at the bus stop in Kelowna, while the suspect in the Vancouver Starbucks stabbing has been charged with second-degree murder.
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