A 19-year-old male from Florida has committed suicide live on Justin.tv while being egged on by forum posters. Does this show the problem inherent with lifecasting?
Lifecasting has been with us for a good few years now, with Steve Mann being the first recognized 24/7 lifecaster in 1994, quickly followed by JenniCam in 1996.
Lifecasting now doesn’t necessarily mean you have to broadcast everything that happens in your life, with more and more people choosing instead to post regular daily video updates or important moments in their lives.
In 2007, Justin Kan founded Justin.tv, which started out with just him and a cap mounted Webcam but has since expanded to other 24/7 broadcasters. It eventually became an open network allowing anyone and everyone to broadcast their own TV channel.
But lifecasting may have just hit a huge bump in the road due to a Florida teenager killing himself live on Justin.tv, all while being urged on by viewers and fellow commenters to the body building forum he was an active member of.
The poster is egged on to do it, and takes an overdose of pills live on Justin.tv. He then falls asleep on the bed, still in full view of the camera, but because his breathing is still visible, few people are worried.
The man’s personal details are then posted along with a plea to call the police. Eventually, some of the forum members do call the cops, and 25 minutes later, they break in to the guy’s home and cover the camera up.
According to Blorge, the medical examiner’s office in Broward County has now confirmed Biggs’ death. Meanwhile, the 60 page forum thread has been deleted, as has the link to Biggs’ Webcam.
Justin.TV’s CEO Michael Seibel issued a statement has issued a statement, reading:
We regret that this has occurred and respect the privacy of the broadcaster and his family during this time. We have policies in place to discourage the distribution of distressing content and our community monitors the site accordingly. This content was flagged by our community, reviewed, and removed according to our Terms of Service.
Who’s To Blame?
This clearly isn’t the fault of Justin.tv, but when the very nature of life includes death, was this always bound to happen, and could it become a serious problem in this Internet age?
Live video means that incidents such as this could increase, and there’s very little anyone watching can do, especially without having knowledge of the broadcasters personal details.
The Price Of Technology
I send my best to Biggs’ family, and hope that this incident doesn’t trigger copycats. As for live streaming sites such as Justin.tv, I really don’t see what they can do to prevent stuff like this from happening.
What’s important to remember is that the technology didn’t cause the death of this young man, and he would have likely committed suicide if live streaming video didn’t exist. It’s just very unfortunate that suicide can now be broadcast live to people on the Internet.
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