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Periscope, the livestreaming app for Twitter, is at the center of a controversy in Ohio, where a sheriff last week charged an 18-year-old woman with broadcasting the sexual assault of her friend.

According to a report by NPR, prosecutors charged Marina Lonina with kidnapping, rape, sexual battery, and distributing child pornography. Those prosecutors claim she used Twitter’s Periscope to livestream the rape of a 17-year-old girl.

NPR says Lonina’s attorney insists she was livestreaming the rape in an attempt to get the alleged rapist to cease.

But prosecutor Ron O’Brien told NPR that this was not the case.

“She told police she continued to livestream it,” O’Brien told NPR, “because she got caught up in the likes that were showing up on her screen. And she didn’t call 911. She giggled throughout.”

“You can hear the victim screaming ‘Stop,’ ‘Don’t,’ ‘Please,’ crying,” he said.

Raymond Boyd Gates, 29, was charged with the rape.

As Twitter, and now Facebook, have embraced more and more live video, they are faced with the challenge of monitoring disturbing and pornographic content. Their ability to stay on top of that issue could go a long way toward determining whether these services gain wider mainstream adoption or whether they become NSFW niches.

A Twitter spokesperson said in an email that the company does not comment on individual accounts, for privacy and security reasons. But the spokesperson did point to Periscope’s community guidelines:

Periscope is intended to be open and safe. To maintain a healthy platform, explicit graphic content is not allowed. Explicit graphic content includes, but is not limited to, depictions of child abuse, animal abuse, or bodily harm. Periscope is not for content that is intended to incite violence, or includes a direct and specific threat of violence to others.

The spokesperson also noted that guidelines for law enforcement explain what information Periscope has about accounts, and how authorities can request it via valid legal process.


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