ARCHIVAL (FACEBOOK LIVE, 2016):Man: Am I live?Man: What up, peeps?Man: We are live from Phuket walking the streets.
NARRATION: Two months after the public launch of Facebook Live in 2016, more than 800,000 people tuned in to watch an exploding watermelon.
ARCHIVAL (BUZZFEED FACEBOOK LIVE, 4-8-16):CROWD (AS WATERMELON EXPLODES): Yay!
NARRATION: The app described by the company as a great medium for sharing raw and visceral content has been used to stream events from the silly
ARCHIVAL (FACEBOOK LIVE, 5-19-16):WOMAN IN CHEWBACCA MASK: Grrrr
NARRATION: to the serious.
ARCHIVAL (FACEBOOK LIVE, STANDING ROCK PROTEST, 10-27-16):MAN ON LOUDSPEAKER: Everybody move down.
NARRATION: But then it captured the aftermath of a fatal police shooting.
ARCHIVAL (FACEBOOK LIVE, 7-6-16):DIAMOND REYNOLDS: He let the officer know that he washe had a firearm and he was reaching for wallet, the officer just shot him in the arm.
NARRATION: And then, this.
ARCHIVAL (ABC, 4-3-17):NEWS REPORT: A 15-year-old girl sexually assaulted by 4 or 5 teenage boys who streamed with they did on Facebook Live.
NARRATION: Professor Desmond Patton studies the relationship between youth violence and social media.
DESMOND U. PATTON (ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF SOCIAL WORK, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY): We now have a window into whats happening in communities where trauma and stress and violence are everyday occurrences. And so Facebook Live captures those moments, inadvertently or advertently.
NARRATION: In the sexual assault case, Chicago police charged two juveniles with taking part and using their phones to share it online.
DESMOND U. PATTON: There is this thing that happens around celebrity and whos seeing this. How far can it reach? And will it make me famous?
ARCHIVAL (ABC, 4-3-17):NEWS REPORT: Authorities say at least 40 people viewed the Facebook Live video, but not a single person called police.
NARRATION: But police went out of their way to chastise another group what might be called the digital bystanders.
ARCHIVAL (WBBM, 4-3-17):CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Where are we going, what are we doing as a society that people will actually look at those crimes taking place and not pick up the phone and dial 911?
NARRATION: But that troubling question is not unique to the digital age. Take a case from the 1960s in New York City, where 28-year old Catherine Genovese or Kitty as she was called lived with her partner, Mary Ann Zielonko.
MARY ANN ZIELONKO: She was very outgoing, very gregarious and very people-oriented. We were sort of closeted. I just never even thought about it, you know. It just was my life.
NARRATION: They shared an apartment in Kew Gardens, Queens.
MARY ANN ZIELONKO: We just both tended bar. Lived a very quiet life. The area was very, very nice. It was rather artsy in a way. Kew Gardens was really very safe.
NARRATION: But late one night in March 1964, Genovese drove home from the bar she managed, unaware she was being followed by a serial killer. As she got out of her car, she saw Winston Moseley and started to run.
ARCHIVAL:NEWS REPORT: This is where the killer must have started to catch up with Kitty Genovese. She didnt quite make it halfway down the block before the killer drove a knife into her.
CATHERINE PELONERO (AUTHOR, KITTY GENOVESE): She screams, Oh my God, he stabbed me, help me, somebody help me. And she goes down on the ground. She continues to scream. There are lights going on in the apartment houses, windows going up and a man looked out and he yelled, Leave that girl alone!
NARRATION: Witnesses saw Moseley, startled by the noise, run away. But none of Genoveses neighbors came to her aid, even as she staggered into a nearby doorway, screaming again for help.
CATHERINE PELONERO: Shes lying helpless on the floor, and the door opens, and its her attacker. He stabs her multiple times. Then he cuts off her clothing. He sexually assaults her. Winston Moseley flees. A police car pulls in.
NARRATION: But it was too late. Kitty Genovese died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Her partner, Mary Ann, didnt hear the news until later when the police knocked on her door.
MARY ANN ZIELONKO: I felt, wow, she was so close and I was sleeping and I didnt know what happened, that I could have saved her. You know, thats what I really think still.
NARRATION: At first, the murder was not big news. But two weeks later, after a tip from police, The New York Times published a chilling front page story that began: For more than half an hour, 38 respectable, law-abiding citizens in queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman.”
JOSEPH DE MAY JR. (NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORIAN): This story was absolutely and utterly shocking. No one could imagine that not only would people fail to call the police, but that they would watch the murder take place over half an hour.
NARRATION: One witness was quoted as saying, I didnt want to get involved. The story became a sensation, and the public reacted with disgust and fear of city life.
ARCHIVAL (7-6-64):REPORTER: Tell me why you thought it was necessary for you to carry a knife?ARLENE DEL FAVA: The Kitty Genovese case, where no one came to her rescue even though she begged for help.
ARCHIVAL: (WCAU, 1964):HARRY REASONER: Thirty-eight of her neighbors watched a woman die. And when it was over, they all went back to bed.
JOSEPH DE MAY JR.: In the aftermath of the murder, the 38 witnesses who were not involved in Kittys murder, but were only witnesses to it, had been portrayed almost worse than the murderer himself.
NARRATION: Twenty-nine year-old Winston Moseley was picked up by the police and confessed to the killing.
HAROLD TAKOOSHIAN (PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY): The detectives asked the killer, How could you attack this woman in front of so many witnesses? Werent you afraid? And the killer said, I knew they wouldnt do anything. People never do.
NARRATION: Genoveses death became a metaphor for public apathy and moral decay. But two young social psychologists, John Darley from NYU and Bibb Latan from Columbia University, had a different take.
ARCHIVAL (1970s):BIBB LATAN: Perhaps Kitty Genovese would have been alive today if fewer people had seen her.
NARRATION: Their idea became known as the bystander effect.
BIBB LATAN: What struck me and struck John as we talked about it is that 38 might not have been just a coincidence it might have been a cause it might have been what made it happen. That it might have been that each of the people was actually concerned, but somehow was misled by the idea that other people were watching.
NARRATION: Using students, Latan and Darley designed experiments to test their counterintuitive theory that the more people who witness an emergency, the less likely it is that any of them will intervene.
ARCHIVAL (TRAINING VIDEO RECREATING ORIGINAL EXPERIMENTS, 1976):VOICE: I would like to thank the two of you for being here today.
NARRATION: A student was told she was speaking privately over an intercom with one other student who suddenly said he was having a seizure.
ARCHIVAL (TRAINING VIDEO RECREATING ORIGINAL EXPERIMENTS, 1976):STUDENT: If somebody would give me a little, a little help? STUDENT: Hello?
NARRATION: She quickly got up and ran for help As did most of the subjects who thought they alone knew someone was in trouble.
ARCHIVAL (TRAINING VIDEO RECREATING ORIGINAL EXPERIMENTS, 1976):STUDENT: Is anybody here? We need some help here. Weve got somebody hurt hello?
NARRATION: But look what happened when students were told there were others listening to the conversation.
ARCHIVAL (TRAINING VIDEO RECREATING ORIGINAL EXPERIMENTS, 1976):STUDENT: Can somebody give me a little help here, Im having a real problem right now.
NARRATION: In repeated experiments, the majority of them just sat there and didnt help.
BIBB LATAN: You think that if there are many people who are witness to something that other people certainly already have done something. Why should it be me?
NARRATION: New evidence in the Kitty Genovese case has emerged showing that details of that shocking New York Times story were exaggerated. Two neighbors did call the police. And while dozens heard her screams, only a few actually saw the attack take place.
HAROLD TAKOOSHIAN: We can look back and say that it wasnt entirely accurate but the fact is that it is was a powerful change agent for society.
ARCHIVAL (1975):EMERGENCY OPERATOR: 911 emergency.
NARRATION: In the wake of the murder, the 911 phone system was created to make it easier to report a crime. And more states passed good samaritan laws to encourage people to help. But tougher measures, so-called duty to assist laws, are not widespread.
JOSEPH DE MAY JR.: Its the law in many, if not most states that there is no criminal penalty for failing to get involved, for failing to help someone who is in dire straits or in an emergency.
ARCHIVAL (WPSG-TV 6-29-14):REPORTER: Others watching the violence take out their cell phones and record it without intervening.
NARRATION: But the age of violent videos taken by bystanders has led to calls for new kinds of laws.
That happened in California after a 14-year-old boy suffered a concussion during an assault by one teen, while another filmed it and posted it on Snapchat.
ARCHIVAL (KABC, 12-6-16):ED PEISNER: Why would you do this? For a laugh? For a like?
NARRATION: The boy who threw the punch was given probation. The teen who filmed it was not charged.
ARCHIVAL (CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY, 4-25-17):ED PEISNER: Taking someones worse moment and making it your best moment on social media is expanding exponentially and we need to do something about it now, before it gets out of control.
NARRATION: California has since passed a law that allows additional jail time for those who take part in a crime and video record it. But what about those watching online?
DESMOND U. PATTON: Viewing things around rape and beatings and murder are extreme cases that are actually rare on social media. But what do you do when you see negative things? Should you report it like you would a physical situation? Should you call 911? Should you call a community-based organization? I think that police, and schools, and parents, and technology companies could come together and really put forth some ideas on what people should do.
NARRATION: Under fire for not anticipating how its platform would be used, Facebook has hired thousands of people to remove offensive material faster, so its users dont become unwitting bystanders to violence.
ARCHIVAL (FACEBOOK CORPORATE VIDEO, 4-18-17):MARK ZUCKERBERG: We will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.
NARRATION: But social scientists say the bystander effect taught in textbooks worldwide is a much broader phenomenon, as ingrained in us today as when it came to light 55 years ago in the Kitty Genovese case.
DESMOND U. PATTON: What we now understand is that this observation and not knowing what to do is something that weve done for a really long time. And the technology has not shifted that. It just puts a finer point on what weve already been doing. And I think we should stop there and think about why are kids doing this to other kids? And social media gives us an opportunity to really dig into that. And so thats where I think our attention should be at this moment.