Facebook has removed a horrific video clip that showed a man putting a noose around his 11-month-old baby daughter’s neck and hanging her from the roof of an abandoned building in Phuket, following an uproar.
"This is an appalling incident and our hearts go out to the family of the victim. There is absolutely no place for content of this kind on Facebook and it has now been removed," Facebook spokesperson said in an official statement yesterday.
Earlier in the day, the Public Health Ministry had urged the online giant to remove the video from the Internet.
The father committed suicide after the killing, but that act was not included in the Facebook Live broadcast.
The clip, which lasted more than four minutes, shocked the public and left the family distraught.
Ministry spokesman Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, who also heads the Somdet Chaopraya Institute of Psychiatry, said earlier in the day that Facebook had to remove the clip immediately as it could cause depression and could prompt copycat suicides.
“If his family members have no access to his Facebook account, Facebook must take action. It’s Facebook’s responsibility,” he said.
He said he expected that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission would raise the issue with Facebook and encourage it to introduce features that would help to prevent a repeat of such incidents.
“In the United States there are monitoring programmes to link suicidal people to help hotlines,” he said. “We should have such features in Thailand too.”
The Phuket tragedy involved a 21-year-old man who was apparently angry over his wife leaving him.
The father, whose name was withheld in accordance with the law, broadcast the tragic incident at about 5.45pm on Monday. The video remained online for approximately 24 hours.
The Facebook Live clip went viral and was drawn to the attention of the mother who rushed to seek help from police.
In the clip, the man was seen sitting with the baby girl on the rooftop of the multi-storey deserted building. He was seen looping plastic ties together and placing a noose around the neck of the infant, who is wearing only a diaper. He then dropped her down from the edge of the rooftop holding onto the plastic ties.
The baby is heard crying briefly before her father pulled her up and untied the knot. She is then heard crying briefly.
The mother said she had quarrelled with her husband because he suspected she had a relationship with another man. The woman said she left their house after he checked her phone and threatened to kill her at about 3am on Monday.
“I accompanied my younger sister when she collected her things from his home and tried to settle the issue with him. But he said he needed to run some errands and took his daughter with him,” said a male relative.
The relative said he had no idea what was going on until he saw the clip on Facebook.
The 21-year-old mother went to Thalang Police Station at about 6.30pm after learning about the clip.
Police searched the area for the deserted building that was shown on the video and eventually found it near a five-star hotel at Naithon Beach in tambon Choeng Thalay of Thalang district.
They found the father had hanged himself from a beam inside the building and the body of the baby girl was lying on the rooftop.
Phuket Governor Norapat Plodthong said social workers would provide counselling to the baby’s mother.
Facebook has previously admitted that broadcasts of murders and suicides have been an issue that it has taken steps to prevent.
In reference to a previous video clip of a murder in Cleveland that was uploaded to Facebook, co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said: “We have a lot of work, and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”
On April 16, a Cleveland man uploaded the video clip of him shooting and killing Robert Godwin Sr, a 74-year-old grandfather who was on his way home from an Easter meal with his family.
The News Broadcasting Council of Thailand yesterday released a statement to condemn media outlets that broadcast the baby killing and urged TV stations to uphold ethics in their coverage.
A TV station was strongly criticised on Facebook for replaying the clip of the baby’s murder. A popular Facebook page, “DramaAddict”, said although the station blurred the faces, the baby was heard crying. (**)