On December 30th, Katelyn Nicole Davis live-streamed her suicide on social media outside her home in Cedartown, Georgia.
Tragically, the 12-year-old girl hanged herself in her front yard, and the video is now being re-posted by numerous websites.
Fox 5 Atlanta reported that in the video, prior to her suicide, Davis makes claims of physical and sexual abuse against a male relative.
According to Coosa Valley News, Polk County Police discovered now-deleted blog posts Davis wrote that described the alleged abuse, claiming a male relative “tried to rape” her, and that she was beaten.Image Credit: Screenshot/Facebook
Sadly, the video– which Independent Journal Review chose not to publish– has been circulating around the internet.
It was also reported that in the video, Davis said that the man told her to kill herself. Police have said that if their investigation concludes that allegation is true, the man could be charged for Davis’s death.
Meanwhile, police have been unable to remove the video from websites. Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd told Fox 5 there’s nothing he can do:
“We did our due diligence to try to remove it, but it’s impossible. There’s too many websites that have it, there’s too many people who have it on their device.”
Police would like people to know that each time a person clicks on the video, web operators– who refuse to take the video down– make money.
Fox 5 also reported that in addition to the Davis family and local citizens begging police to take the video offline, people as far away as Great Britain have reached out to Polk County police:
“We want it down as much as anyone for the family and it may be harmful to other kids. We contacted some of the sites. They asked if they had to take it down and by law, they don’t.
But it’s just the common, decent thing to do in my opinion.”
And this isn’t the first live-streamed video showing a graphic death or crime.Image Credit: Screenshot/Facebook
Just last week, a Facebook Live video of four teens torturing a man with special needs went viral.
And only months before that, a live-streamed video of Philando Castile after he was shot by a Minnesota police officer was circulating on the internet.Image Credit: Screenshot/YouTube
Earlier this month, two men in Louisiana were arrested after they live-streamed themselves attempting to kidnap a woman.
Although live-streaming services were not created for the purpose of recording graphic content like those previously mentioned, Daxton Stewart– an associate dean and professor at Texas Christian University– said its original intent doesn’t matter:
“Ultimately consumers of tools like Periscope and Facebook Live will shape the way they are used.”
In a 2016 study called “Up, Periscope: Mobile Streaming Video Technologies, Privacy in Public, and the Right to Record,” Stewart examined people’s use of streaming services, saying:
Image Credit: Screenshot/Facebook
“If the developers do not place restraints on use, and do not provide tools for the community of users to monitor content, then it’s likely we will continue to see them put to troubling uses such the teenager who live-streamed her suicide in France, or the young woman who live-streamed a friend being sexually assaulted earlier this year.”
Stewart also wrote about what challenges the courts will face as more and more people’s privacy is compromised in order to protect the aspect of freedom of speech through live-streaming. However, he specified that the law should protect certain “harmful” videos from being legal:
“In this study, we advocate for less legal restraint of recording and live-streaming public matters or government officials in public places, which clearly deserve First Amendment protection.
But we also call for wisdom by users and tech companies in controlling the spread of materials that may be more harmful to private individuals.”
Although police cannot legally remove Davis’s suicide video from websites at the moment, the family asks that no one click on the video or share it, so that web operators don’t profit from their daughter’s tragic death.
If you recognize any red flags in your children or need emotional support yourself, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1 (800) 273-8255. For emergencies, dial 911.