A graphic video of a “man with a beard” who livestreamed his suicide via Facebook Live, and was shared in various social media is now being shared on TikTok. Users are sending warnings, while the platform is working hard to remove all versions of the video by banning those who have been sharing it since Sept. 7.
The man on the video is 33-year-old Ronnie McNutt from New Albany, Mississippi, who took his life while doing Facebook Live on Aug. 31. TikTok users have been posting videos with wording warning about a video that starts with “a man with a beard” sitting at a desk and telling other users to click away and not watch it.
While users attach a graphic warning, many are still sharing it in comment sections or hide it in a mode ‘innocent’ video, or share it without warning, leaving other users in shock.
A TikTok spokesperson told The Verge that their systems are automatically detecting and flagging these clips that violate the platform’s policies against content that promotes, praises, glorifies, or displays suicide. The spokesperson also said that they are banning users who repeatedly upload clips of the suicide.
“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,” he added.
Unlike in other sites, it is harder to prevent the footage’s spread as TikTok videos appear only in one main feed, the For You Page, where people scroll through. This highlights a significant flaw in the platform’s algorithm, although other social media companies also had trouble managing their platforms.
This is why the TikTok users are being extra vigilant about warning other users for the disturbing images shown in the video, which can be seen by children and teenagers.
This graphic trend is similar to “Video 1444” that went viral in December 2019. The video showed a Russian man who shot himself in the head with a shotgun.
The video initially went viral on YouTube before it was taken down. However, copies of the video were shared on various social media platforms without any warning about the shocking content.
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Meanwhile, March for Our Lives tweeted a warning: “a triggering video circulating @tiktok_us of a man committing suicide using a shotgun.” If you see a white man with a beard at a desk, please skip the video and report.” The organization then included a link to mental health resources.
“If anyone in our community is struggling with thoughts of suicide or concerned about someone who is, we encourage them to seek support,” the spokesperson said adding that information about the help lines can be accessed directly from the app and through the TikTok Safety Center.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) reported the about 45,000 Americans die from suicide each year. For anyone who is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
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Written by CJ Robles