After several deaths were streamed online using Facebook Live, North Carolina legislators want to add extra jail time for criminals who post videos of their violent crimes.
House Bill 918 would add two years to the prison sentence of anyone convicted of a violent felony who “intentionally posted a clip depicting the commission of the felony on the Internet.” The bill would also hire a prosecutor to “serve as a state resource regarding the prosecution of violent crimes intentionally posted on the internet, including social media and similar applications.”
The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Garland Pierce of Scotland County, said his bill was prompted by recent incidents in North Carolina and elsewhere in which people posted videos of violent acts.
Pierce says the videos are “a form of terrorism” because of their impact on victims’ family and friends.
“North Carolina needs to be a leader in passing this type of legislation,” Pierce said. “When you take the time to video it, that’s going a little bit further than a crime of passion. I think that’s a premeditated murder.”
Pierce cited an incident in Cleveland last month in which a man was charged with shooting a stranger as he streamed video on Facebook Live. And earlier this year in Facebook, someone streamed video of a man dying in Fayetteville after being shot, although police believe the shooter wasn’t the person who took the video.
“We’re in a bad place where it relates to the things people are putting online,” Pierce said, noting that technology now allows people to post video “online right now and millions of people can see it while it’s actually happening.”
He worries that the practice glorifies violent acts and encourages similar crimes, because the videos are difficult to fully delete once they’re online. “It’s going to live in infamy for a long time,” Pierce said.
He’s hopeful the bill can pass this session because two Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors: Rep. John Blust of Greensboro and Rep. Mitchell Setzer of Catawba County. Blust chairs the Judiciary II Committee, which is in charge of setting any hearing for the bill.