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Facebook suggests commenting with prayer hands emoji on Chicago shooting livestreams (updated)

'So this is horrifying.'


Sunny Kim


Posted on Nov 19, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 1:15 am CDT

As a fatal shooting took place at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago on Monday, news outlets’ Facebook livestreams were populated with suggested comments including “this is so sad” and the prayer hands emoji.

Three people, including a police officer, were killed in the hospital shooting, CNN reports. The gunman was also killed.

As news of the active shooting broke, NBC journalist Steph Haberman pointed out on her personal Twitter account that Facebook had added the suggested comments feature to news outlets’ livestreams.

“So I’m just noticing that Facebook has a thoughts and prayers autoresponder on our Chicago Hospital shooting livestream and I have some thoughts,” Haberman wrote.

A cursory search by the Daily Dot revealed the suggested comment boxes in livestream posts about the shooting. The suggested comments included “heartbreaking” and the prayer hands emoji.

NBC News/Facebook

A click on the arrow in the bottom-right revealed more options for auto-responses, including “Hope everyone is OK,” “What happened?” “So sad,” “So sorry,” an as some of the responses. The prayer emoji and crying face emoji were also given as options.

NBC News/Facebook

Some people on Facebook commented using the auto-responses. But on Twitter, some people responding to Haberman’s tweet wrote that using the suggested responses was problematic.

“This wins for the most dystopian thing I’ve seen all day,” one person wrote.

“They might also want to add an ‘I really don’t care, do you?’ one as well,” another person wrote, referencing a jacket worn by first lady Melania Trump.

Some wrote the auto-responses as a response to the tweet, mocking Facebook’s feature.

Facebook did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment on the auto-response feature and when it was implemented for crisis situations.

Politicians have been criticized for saying “thoughts and prayers” to express their condolences whenever there is a mass shooting in the U.S., according to CNN. However, critics of #ThoughtsAndPrayers point out these words mean nothing when there has been no progress on gun control legislation. The phrase has been turned into a scathing meme and an ironic video game that asks players to prevent mass shootings by pressing “Pray” and “Think” buttons.

Some people on Twitter sarcastically asked President Donald Trump to send “thoughts and prayers” for victims of the Chicago shooting.

Update 4:23pm CT, Nov. 20: A Facebook spokesperson told the Daily Dot in a statement that the suggested comment feature has been removed from livestreams.

“We have been testing a suggested comment feature on Live videos. Clearly this wasn’t implemented properly and we have disabled this feature for now,” the spokesperson said.

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*First Published: Nov 19, 2018, 8:39 pm CST