Thailand media slammed for Facebook Live baby murder coverage

Thai media came under fire Wednesday for publishing images of a man killing his infant daughter in a Facebook Live video, a case that sparked outrage and raised fears of copycat killings.

Published: 26th April 2017 06:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th April 2017 07:44 PM   |  A+A-

Chiranut Trairat, whose husband hanged their daughter on Facebook Live and then killed himself, sits in front of her daughter's coffin at Si Sunthon temple in Phuket, Thailand. (Photo | AP)


BANGKOK: Thai media came under fire Wednesday for publishing images of a man killing his infant daughter in a Facebook Live video, a case that sparked outrage and raised fears of copycat killings.

The video, filmed Monday on the southern resort island of Phuket, showed Wuttisan Wongtalay hang his 11-month daughter Natalie from an abandoned building before taking his own life, according to police. 

The footage was online for around 24 hours before it was removed on Tuesday, prompting cries for Facebook to move more swiftly to take down clips of grisly crimes and killings.

A Thai media body also slammed news outlets that showed graphic images of the crime. 

At least one major daily printed an image of the murder-suicide on its front page Tuesday, while several TV channels aired segments of the video.

"The News Broadcasting Council of Thailand received complaints about reporting on a man who killed his child and himself via Facebook Live," the organisation said in a statement. 

"Those reports were inappropriate," it added, warning channels and newspapers against giving graphic coverage to similar crimes because they "may lead to copycats".

Thai newspaper front pages are often splashed with bloody and lurid imagery.  

But netizens expressed horror over the killing and said this time the coverage had gone too far. 

"It was a news story, not a horror movie. Was it really necessary to release the soundbite?" one commentator wrote in the online forum Pantip, referring to audio played by some media from the Facebook Live stream.

Police said they believe the killing was motivated by jealousy. They said Wuttisan, 20, feared his 22-year-old partner Jiranuch Trirat was poised to leave him for a man with whom she had had another child.

- Mother's plea -

Shortly after collecting her daughter's body on Tuesday, Jiranuch issued a heartbreaking appeal to fellow parents. 

"I want other mothers and fathers to use their heads -- no matter how serious an argument you have, do not use force or think of killing people in the family," she told reporters before breaking down in tears. 

Funeral rites and prayers will take place over the coming days, with the girl's burial expected on Saturday.

In a statement late Tuesday Facebook described the incident as "appalling".

"There is absolutely no place for content of this kind on Facebook and it has now been removed," the social network told AFP.

The killing was only the latest grisly crime to be published on Facebook, reviving questions about if and how such videos can be monitored. 

Last week Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg vowed to address the issue after a man in the US state of Ohio broadcast footage of himself shooting a stranger dead. 

The killer went on to fatally shoot himself after a massive manhunt and police chase.

Zuckerberg conceded that Facebook had "a lot of work" to do on the issue. 

Facebook already has a 24-hour team of moderators who decide whether to remove content that is reported to them. Suicides and crimes are prioritised.

But the network it is limited by the sheer volume of content posted online each day.

A Thai police spokesman said officers moved quickly to alert the kingdom's digital ministry about the video, which contacted Facebook about taking it down. 

"We have only a handful of police officers on duty (to monitor the web) so we have to rely heavily on the public to keep us informed," deputy national police spokesman Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen told AFP.


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