The Dark Side of Live-Stream Technology

What parents must know in order to protect their kids

Several men raped a woman in Uppsala, Sweden, just days ago, and live-streamed the entire three-hour assault  to their closed group of about 1,000 members, according to a report in the BBC.

New information is emerging that the attackers were Afghan immigrants. Two of the men, aged 18 and 20, are in police custody but have denied the accusations, according to Fox News. A third man has been detained for not reporting the event.

“You have been raped,” one of the men said at the end of the video, laughing, according to a viewer who contacted police. Law enforcement later confirmed that they and “many” others had seen the footage. Multiple arrests were made in the case last Sunday.

One young woman told police that she began filming to try to get the attacker to stop raping her friend — but got caught up in how many “likes” she received for the live stream.

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This is just one of the most recent in a wave of violent live-stream events on social media sites recently. A little more than a week ago, 12-year-old Katelyn Nicole Davis of Cedartown, Georgia, told her friends in a live stream that she had been physically and sexually abused. She then hanged herself from a tree in the front yard. People shared the video across the country and even overseas.

In another live stream just days ago, teenage mother Shayla Rudolf of Ohio taped her toddler to the wall with duct tape for misbehaving. The toddler wails through his gag for most of the video, while his mother calmly addresses her audience: “You can’t clean with him tearing up? Tape him to the wall.” She jeered at him and threatened to add more tape to his head, arms, and mouth if he kept crying.

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In a case that received global attention earlier this month, two young men and two young women kidnapped a special needs 18-year-old from the Chicago suburbs. They trapped in a room until the following Monday, when they beat him, taunted him, and verbally reviled him, live-streaming the brutal attack.

[lz_ndn video=31823969]

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The boy’s captors finally set him loose to wander Chicago confused and alone in a dangerous part of the city. Police found him and spent hours trying to help him calm down enough to tell them what happened.

Arresting the kidnappers turned out to be a cinch — because they had live-streamed the most gruesome parts of their abuse on Facebook.

In many of these incidents, those holding the camera seem to have a flimsy grasp — if any grasp at all — on the seriousness of their actions. When viewers expressed their dismay at the teen mother who taped her toddler to the wall, for example, her response was to say that she could hang him upside down if she chose.

Many of these incidents have taken place in impoverished communities where violence is already prevalent. The neighborhood in Chicago where the special needs victim was attacked had a record 762 murders last year. Compared to homicide — beating someone up may not seem extreme.

The most astounding fact about the videos may not be that they were filmed in the first place at all — but that they receive so much attention. In one of the most infamous cases of violent live-streaming, an 18-year-old Ohio woman filmed a 29-year-old man in the act of raping her underage friend. She told police she began filming to try and get the attacker to stop — but got caught up in how many “likes” she received for the stream.

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“People using social media to bully is not a new phenomenon,” Dr. Felicia Pressley, professor of adolescent and family dynamics at Argosy University in Northern Virginia, told LifeZette. “However, the lack of sensitively and empathy that is being displayed is interesting. We are now in an era where people are exposing themselves to public fame by wanting to fit into a population of the ‘bad’ boy or girl image.”

She continued, “People have seen over time in the media that this stereotype is being rewarded and they want to be famous, but [now it’s] for poor behavior and lack of empathy.”

Pressley said that that much of this violence stems from these people’s poor everyday living conditions — but by the same token, violence is also encouraged in our media. “Over and over again in movies and general media, the villain seems to be winning,” noted Pressley.

The Facebook live stream is a relatively new feature — mainly, it is used to promote at-home businesses and to broadcast family events. But the feature also has a sinister side, one we’re only just discovering.

This article has been updated to reflect the latest developments.

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