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Instagram Pulled Into Debate Over Police Violence After Maryland Killing

Facebook, which owns the photo sharing service, temporarily deactivated Korryn Gaines’ account during a fatal standoff with police

Korryn Gaines was fatally shot in her home on Monday after being egged on by her Instagram followers to defy police orders, according to Baltimore County police.

Police had visited Gaines’ apartment to serve an arrest warrant after she failed to appear in court for charges related to a traffic stop. In March, she was pulled over for driving with a cardboard “Free Traveler” sign instead of a license plate and told an officer that they would have to “murder” her in order for her to exit the vehicle, The Baltimore Sun reported.

But when Gaines denied police entry to her home on Monday, they obtained a key and found her sitting on the floor holding both a shotgun and her 5-year-old son, according to the New York Times.

Before shots were fired, videos from inside Gaines’ apartment were posted to her Instagram account, including one in which she can be heard asking her son what the police were trying to do.

“They trying to kill us,” the son said.

Viewers began leaving comments on Gaines’ posts which complicated negotiations, according to Baltimore police.

“Ms. Gaines was posting video of the operation as it unfolded. Followers were encouraging her not to comply with negotiators’ request that she surrender peacefully,” Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson said on Tuesday, according to the Guardian.

In order to facilitate negotiations, police then contacted Facebook — the parent company of Instagram — to temporarily deactivate Gaines’ account during the standoff.

“Why? In order to preserve the integrity of the negotiation process with her and for the safety of our personnel [and] her child,” Johnson said.

The standoff, in which both parties exchanged fire, lasted for five hours before police fatally shot Gaines, AP reported. Her son sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the crossfire.

The incident comes shortly after another form of social media, Facebook Live, was used to capture the killing of Philando Castile in Minnesota. Facebook has stated that a team of moderators determines what kind of violent content can remain on its site and will remove any images that appear to glorify the violence.

Law enforcement officials have the ability to submit emergency requests to Facebook “in responding to a matter involving imminent harm to a child or risk of death or serious physical injury to any person and requiring disclosure of information without delay.” The company does not review any requests submitted by non-law enforcement personnel.

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