Whenever we invent a new technology, we think of new ways to fear it. Today's case in point involves people live-streaming horrific events.
The Washington Post notes examples, including when "a woman live-streamed her suicide, a teenager broadcast her friend’s rape, and a man narrated his standoff with a Florida SWAT team." And:
In one disturbing incident on May 9, 30-year-old Adam Mayo barricaded himself in his house and sent a series of nine live broadcasts showing his armed standoff with Tampa police. Despite the fact that Mayo brandished a handgun, and repeatedly promised to start shooting — “Miss,” he yells at one point, “you got a body bag ready?” — Facebook moderators didn’t step in to shut down the stream.
A day after that, on May 10, a 19-year-old French woman used Periscope to broadcast the hours leading up to her suicide, as well as the event itself.
The Post then raises the classic medicalization metaphor:
while there’s no research on streaming video specifically, there’s plenty of research to suggest that graphic, widely circulated media can have a dangerous public-health effect: Videos about gun violence or self-harm tend to be “contagious.”
To her credit, Caitlin Dewey also cites people who think this emerging fear is already overblown.