This article was published on February 9, 2021

Beverly Hills cops try to weaponize Instagram’s algorithms in failed attempt to thwart live streamers

Beverly Hills cops try to weaponize Instagram’s algorithms in failed attempt to thwart live streamers

We don’t know if Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD) Sergeant Billy Fair practices Santeria (or owns a crystal ball), but we know he listens to the Sublime song of the same name. We know this because he’s become a viral sensation on Instagram after blasting the 1990’s hit at a citizen in a misguided attempt to get Instagram’s algorithm to take down a live stream due to copyright infringement.

Ironically, the officer of the law isn’t very clear on the social media site’s rules. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

Background: This story comes to us from Vice’s Dexter Thomas via the Instagram account of one Sennett Devermont, the citizen on the receiving end of the cop’s silly attempt to game the system.

Credit: Instagram

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In the post linked above, we can see video of Sergeant Fair employing the old crank up the music so you can’t hear your parents yelling at you to clean your room tactic as soon as Devermont starts asking too many questions.

Thomas’ reporting makes it clear that this isn’t an isolated incident within the Beverly Hills community, but instead both Fair and other officers have deployed this tactic. One officer is even quoted as not only having knowledge of Devermont’s IG account, but going so far as to mockingly bring up negative comments on posts involving the citizen’s interactions with BHPD.

Laws and rules: The law says that, for the most part, it’s cool for people in California to film law enforcement officers. And, despite what you might believe, Instagram’s rules say that, for the most part, it’s cool for you to post a video that has short moments of copyrighted music playing through it.

Quick take: What we have here is a case of officers of the law trying to weaponize the legal protections a private company is forced to take in order to adhere to the law, against a citizen expressing their Constitutionally-protected right to record the cops under the First Amendment.

And I’ll leave it to you to decide whether protecting police officers from the consequences of their own actions or upholding the will detailed in the US’ founding documents is more important.

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