New Media Deathcasting

Nov 20th, 2008 | By | Category: Internet TV, Streaming Video, Video

Liz Gannes at New Tee Vee reports on another live streaming deathcasting incident:

In a striking display of the power of live video, Abraham K. Biggs committed suicide on Wednesday while broadcasting himself on video site As we understand it from various forum posts, the 19-year-old Floridian was apparently egged on by commenters on and fellow forum users on

Biggs overdosed on pills while on camera and appeared to be breathing for hours until watchers realized he might be serious, at which point they alerted the police. The video kept running until police and EMTs broke Biggs’ door down and blocked the camera’s view.

While a lot of people will spin this story like Gannes, talking about the power and immediacy of online video, this story highlights how, even with the greatest communication technologies ever available, we struggle to communicate and understand each other. 

Live streaming sites may need to implement real-time monitoring of videos flagged as inappropriate. In this case, timely monitoring of flagged videos might have saved Biggs’ life.

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  2. Concerned says:

    “timely monitoring of flagged videos might have saved Biggs’ life.”

    Well if he knew his video would be monitored, he would have chosen another venue for his suicide. So the monitoring would have saved no one, at least in this case.

    On the other hand, monitoring anything most often results in some form of censorship.

  3. James Lewin says:

    Concerned – much of the live TV you see is monitored to ensure that profanities don’t get broadcast, but I’d view that as quality control, rather than censorship.

    I’d be surprise if live streaming sites that don’t implement some sort of timely checking of video streams that get flagged as inappropriate don’t start getting sued. In this case, you could make an argument that Briggs was egged on by the site’s members.

  4. Concerned says:

    Thanks for your answer, Mr. Lewin.

    First of all, it’s said we have to discuss this as a result of someone’s death. That said, you’re right, it could be only a matter of time before video streams get monitored. But isn’t this much more complicated than monitoring a few TV channels?

    I don’t know, but assuming there are thousands of live streams at any given time, how do you monitor them?

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