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Facebook deactivated a woman's account during her fatal standoff with police

Korryn Gaines was live-streaming the negotiations, and police said her audience was urging her not to comply with their orders.

by Tess Owen
Aug 3 2016, 7:12pm

Foto via Instagram

Before she was shot and killed by police, 23-year-old Korryn Gaines live-streamed parts of her hours-long standoff in the hallway of her Baltimore-area apartment. That is, until Facebook shut down her accounts.

Baltimore County police said they asked Facebook to deactivate Gaines' Instagram and Facebook accounts. Gaines' followers had been responding to her in real time, urging her not to comply with officers' orders, the police said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Police said they shot Gaines after she pointed a gun in their direction, threatening to kill them. Her five-year-old son was wounded during the exchange of gunfire that eventually ensued. Authorities say they aren't certain whether he was shot or struck by shrapnel from bullets.

Related: Baltimore police shot and killed a black woman, and a child was caught in the crossfire

Chief Jim Johnson said Facebook agreed to suspend Gaines' social media accounts at their request while negotiations were taking place, according to the Associated Press. A spokeswoman for the police said they did not ask Facebook to delete any information or videos.

Facebook's decision to comply with Baltimore police raises questions how and when Facebook and other social media companies become involved in police actions. Facebook briefly removed a video shot by Diamond Reynolds that showed her boyfriend, Philando Castile covered in blood after being shot by a police officer in Minnesota. The company later attributed the removal to a "technical glitch."

Related: Facebook offers a new way to bear witness to violence in America

"Facebook has become the self-appointed gatekeeper for what is acceptable content to show the public, which is an increasingly important and powerful position to be in," wrote Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler for Motherboard last month. "But because the public relies on the website so much, Facebook's rules and judgements have an outsized impact on public debate."

Facebook did not respond to VICE News' request for comment.

Follow Tess Owen on Twitter: @misstessowen