In a case of unrequited love gone tragic, a 22-year-old man from Raibha village, Agra, hanged himself in a local temple and live-streamed the act on Facebook for his friends and family to watch. The victim, who’d fallen into depression after he lost his job and his ex-girlfriend got engaged to another man, had tipped them off in advance of his intent. Before he went ahead, he implored the police not to prosecute anyone for his decision and requested his family members to post a few pictures of his corpse on his Facebook account (deactivated since).

Facebook’s live-stream feature has been under fire for some while now, most recently after the 15 March Christchurch mosque shootings that had an online audience swelling shot by shot. The massacre was watched by about 4,000 people before its clip was taken off the platform, by which time it had gone viral already. Back then, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg had admitted that the company “must do more" to keep such horrors off its network. She assured users that restrictions on what could go live on it were being explored.

No one denies that its live feature is useful for a wide variety of purposes, but the company’s efforts to monitor and block the ghoulish and ghastly are in need of a boost. It may cost extra money, but the company’s management should realize that even a single incident slipping through could negate the effect of all the other filters it has put in place. Facebook’s name tends to crop up more and more in discussions on the modern urge to make a spectacle of suicide. Even if such events are rare, they cast the social network in poor light.

Close