Livestream Tragedy – Social Media’s Transparency

KARK reports that thousands witnessed the final moments of Keiana Herndon, who was using Facebook Live at the time of her passing.

The video starts with her singing, but a few minutes later, she drops the phone and falls.

“I haven’t seen the video. I don’t have the strength right now,” said Richard Herndon, her father.

This incident adds to the list of people whose deaths were live-streamed through social media.

Social media broadcasts are the true form of reality TV. Death on camera is always a possibility. As these events aren’t planned, there’s no trigger warning for the broadcast.

In August 2016, a wingsuiter daredevil, Armin Schmieder, live streamed as he prepared for his jump in west Switzerland. The pressure on users to create thrilling footage is a common cause of death from social media.

There is also the livestream deaths seen by onlookers. Philando Castile, one of the strongest political examples of 2016, was filmed by his girlfriend after being shot. In instances like this, there is as political component that becomes stronger due to the raw footage.

Livestreamed deaths are not exclusive to social media, but prior to mainstream live streaming they were rare.  Christine Chubbuck, shot herself on live TV in 1974. The fact that so many people livestream daily raises the chance of yearly occurrences.

One question remains on whether or not the public has a right to view these moments when the death was done by someone in authority, such as a police officer. Transparency might also deter murderers or bring medical help sooner. In 1974, and today, news channels have an obligation to cut the death as soon as possible from being viewed, but the question remains on how this could be done on social media.



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