Video of suicide 'doesn't violate community standards' - Facebook

  • 06/01/2017
The link led to a video of a young girl killing herself (File)
The link led to a video of a young girl killing herself (File)

Facebook has been fiercely criticised for refusing to take down a link to a video showing the suicide of a 12-year-old American girl.

While the video was not hosted by Facebook itself, the circulating link led to a third-party site which showed Katelyn Michele Davis ending her life in a 42-minute video.

But the world's largest social media platform said the video was not deemed to have violated its community standards - a claim New Zealand mental health advocate Mike King is appalled by.

"They have access to the link, they know how many people are sharing, and it's a simple click of a button to shut it down," he said.

Mr King says Facebook needs to step in to prevent anyone attempting to take their own life in response to the footage.

"My main concern is that any young person who may be going through a really hard time now could watch this tragic event unfold before their eyes and think, 'That's the only option for me too'," he said.

"As far as I'm concerned, if anyone is triggered by this, then the blood's on Facebook's hands."

Kiwi psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald alerted Facebook to one of the links, and was surprised by the site's response.

"I got a fairly swift reply, basically stating that it's their view that it doesn't violate their community standards," he said.

Mr MacDonald says more needs to be done to filter these types of videos from circulating on public forums.

"There doesn't seem to be a process for some human judgement - and I think Facebook and the owners of Google and YouTube are really letting themselves down here because it's basically a snuff video," he said.

"I mean let's call it what is - it's a snuff video that's doing the rounds via the internet.

"If people do come across this on their feed, the first thing I would say is don't post it, don't share it - and to anyone who has, I'd really encourage them to take it down."

Mr King says young people are taking to social media because they feel like they can't talk to the older generation.

"Why do they feel like they can only discuss it with their friends? It's simply because we are not listening to our young people," he said.

"When our young people come to us with a problem, we don't hear that they are in dire stress - we hear that they are criticising us for being bad parents."

Just days ago, a 28-year-old man tried to Facebook livestream his own suicide attempt in Thailand, but was saved by a friend watching his feed.