In the latest act of violence livestreamed over the Internet, a Thai man hanged his 11-month-old child before killing himself, broadcasting the horrific murder-suicide on Facebook Live. The BBC reports the dead bodies of 20-year-old Wuttisan Wongtalay and his baby daughter Beta were found at a deserted hotel in Phuket, Thailand Monday after relatives viewed the video and alerted police. Police Col. Jirasak Siemsak said the man was distraught after an argument with his wife. “He felt neglected by his wife because they had been fighting,” Siemsak was quoted saying by CBS News.
It is but the latest in a rash of disturbing videos livestreamed over the web this year, most using the Facebook Live app. Less than two weeks ago, deranged killer Steve Stephens posted a video of him murdering 74-year old Robert Godwin on Facebook, before ultimately killing himself while being pursued by police. Last month a Chicago girl was sexually abused during a livestream which had up to 40 viewers, and in January a mentally-disabled Chicago man was beaten and abused during a Facebook Live stream, where the attackers allegedly interacted with viewers who left comments.
Wongtalay’s suicide is but one of several posted to Facebook Live since the New Year. In January, both 12-year-old Katelyn Nicole Davis and 14-year-old Naika Venant hanged themselves within a week of each other on Facebook Live. Later that Frederick Jay Bowdy, 33, took his own life after threatening to do so in another Facebook Live video. The phenomena has gotten so bad, experts in law enforcement and mental health professionals fear posting violent videos might be contagious and inspire “copy cat” incidents.
Many blame social media apps, and Facebook in particular, for playing a part in encouraging such public displays of violence. In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said, "This is an appalling incident and our hearts go out to the family of the victim. There is absolutely no place for content of this kind on Facebook and it has now been removed." At a conference on April 18, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the problem of graphically violent livestreams and the Godwin killing in particular, saying “We have a lot of work — and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening."
The social media company is looking into additional changes in its "reporting flows" to allow users to more easily flag violent content. Its also updating its artificial intelligence to automatically block violence from being livestreamed.