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Streaming services adjust after suicide

By Wang Keju | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-28 09:29
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Social media networks have been urged to better monitor and guide users to ensure platforms have a positive influence after one of China's top livestreaming apps deleted 12 accounts over shocking footage of a woman's suicide.

The 19-year-old woman, surnamed Li, jumped to her death on June 20 from the eighth floor of a department store in Qingyang, Gansu province.

Several people in the crowd below filmed Li sitting on a ledge for hours while rescue workers tried to talk her down, with some livestreaming the incident on popular app Kuaishou under titles such as "Jump as soon as possible and don't disturb the traffic" and "You just don't want to jump".

In the footage onlookers can be heard applauding and cheering as Li fell.

Kuaishou said on Tuesday it had shut down three user accounts that shared video of the suicide along with inappropriate comments as well as nine others for posting distasteful comments on livestreams.

Such comments, since removed, included "Jump please. What are you hesitating for?" and "Hurry up. I have to pick up my child after watching you jump", according to a Modern Express report.

Cheng Manli, professor of Peking University's School of Journalism and Communication, said new media platforms like Kuaishou are not only a tool to record people's lives but also increasingly used as a source of information, which magnifies the influence of its output among the public, positive and negative.

She warned that if negative or distasteful comments are not removed in time from platforms, they could become acceptable, even common practice, which to some degree could corrupt public morality.

"New media platforms and their users should be given more specific guidance on what information cannot be broadcast and where the reporting boundary and moral bottom lines are," she said. "Otherwise, the influence and function of the new media could head in the wrong direction."

Kuaishou said it has removed all videos related to Li's suicide. Those posted without any inappropriate comments can now only been seen by the users who uploaded them. Any new videos will be directly deleted, the company said.

Zhu Wei, deputy director of the Communication Law Research Center at China University of Political Science and Law, said spreading information that glorifies suicide or mocking a suicide victim breaches the internet information service regulations.

Companies should also take the responsibility to review and delete live videos when their contents contain violence, disruption of social order or violation of others' legal rights according to the livestream management regulations.

"In this ever-changing era, how to communicate or what to post on new media platforms must be made clear. We need to integrate current rules according to the development of new media and make them into law.

"In this way, it must be a long-term task. But the new-media industry urgently has a demand for a healthy development," Zhu said.

Kuaishou said it has strengthened its review of video content. And it will cut off live videos if any inappropriate content including violence, negative sayings or rumors are seen during their monitoring of the audio and video.

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