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September 22, 2020
Viral Suicide Video Exposes Two Key Problems with Social Media Reactive Technology and User Behavior

Why TikTok Can’t Take Down that Viral Suicide Video

One viral video of a suicide demonstrates two of the biggest weaknesses of social media and tells a cautionary tale…

Several days ago, 33-year-old Army veteran Ronnie McNutt live-streamed his suicide on Facebook. Though Facebook removed the video almost immediately, it’s been circulating on other social media sites, TikTok in-particular. Since its initial upload, the short-form video site is struggling to take it down completely. This, after it first appeared on the app’s “For You” trending homepage.

Viral Suicide Video Exposes Two Key Problems with Social Media: Reactive Technology and User Behavior

McNutt, who served in Iraq, and reportedly lost his job at a Toyota plant in Blue Springs Mississippi, also supposedly broke up with his girlfriend. The original video showed a bearded man sitting behind a desk. He had a phone to his ear. Soon thereafter, he placed a shotgun to his head and pulls the trigger. Although the video is clearly disturbing, it’s managed to go viral, even with TikTok and other social media sites determined to delete it entirely.

Here’s why. Social media sites rely largely on machine learning and artificial intelligence to flag such material proactively. But, it’s far from perfect. Plus, its reactive technology can only do so much to track down content that violates their guidelines once it’s on the platform. Then, there are users, who share and re-upload content. Some people will continue to circulate the material, until their accounts are locked. Then, they will merely create new profiles. A representative for TikTok says:

“We are banning accounts that repeatedly try to upload clips, and we appreciate our community members who’ve reported content and warned others against watching, engaging, or sharing such videos on any platform out of respect for the person and their family.”

Owen E. Richason IV

Covers social media, apps, search and like news. History buff, movie and theme park lover. Blessed dad and husband. Owen is also a musician and is the founder of Groove Modes.          

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