This incident happened on 21st February 2019, when João, a 19-year-old young vlogger from Brazil, live-streamed his suicide through the Tik-Tok application. The event took place at about 3:23 pm, and the video remained live for about one and a half hours with the visual of the dead body.
TikTok app was the fourth most downloaded application in the world in 2019. The TikTok office became aware of the incident at 5:00 pm. The company waited for about three hours before relaying the matter to the police. From about 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, the company worked rapidly to make sure that the incident does not catch any media attention to defame the image of the company.
Instead of immediately informing the authorities and the family of the teenage boy, TikTok Brazil office made sure that the news does become a potential “viral” subject. The officials also instructed to ensure that the story does not get exposure on other platforms, even by chance.
The company did not take any responsibility, and the Official chose to remain anonymous.
Suicide Cases History Through Social Media Apps
Such an incident was not the first one on this app or any other social media app in the generic sense. Previously, two reports of suicide recordings through the TikTok app took place in India also. Due to this, the court had attempted to ban this app in the Indian subcontinent but it did not happen.
Other apps have proper screening policies relating to such incidents that seem to be missing from TikTok.
Suicide is a grave issue and one of the major causes of death among young people. The human tendency of copying can add to the severity of this issue. The copycat syndrome can spread impacts of suicide in the community hence, leading to an upsurge in such incidents.
Even the World Health Organization has warned against this copycat syndrome and advised the officials of such applications to make strict and effective guidelines towards these.
Young, depressed individuals, going through mental issues more prone to the ill-effects of such incidents.
There was no media coverage to that identified this matter. The company was more concerned about its image and market and did not feel responsible for even informing the family members of the teenager! The body was shown to live for more than an hour. Hence, there is a question – how can a company allow live -streams of more than an hour long.
The news did not go viral, and the company did not face any defamation. So, what does this tell us about the whole scenario? That a company only cares about its reputation and image and the life of the individual is not of that much value.
What we need to do is, check on our friends, family or other members of society if they show any danger signs. João had previously posted some suspicious messages before conducting such an act in front of the whole world. And even when the incident had happened, no action took place for a long time.