Wuttisan Wongtalay: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Facebook, logo, smartphone, laptop

Facebook logos on a smartphone and laptop. (Getty)

Less than two weeks after Facebook faced major controversy over the murder of Cleveland resident Robert Godwin (whose killer, Steve Stephens, recorded the murder and posted the video to Facebook — though Godwin’s murder was not streamed over Facebook Live, as police originally reported), the same controversy has erupted on the other side of the world: on April 24, a 24-year-old Thai man named Wuttisan “Tei” Wongtalay murdered his 11-month old daughter in a video streamed on Facebook Live, before killing himself. Here’s five facts you need to know:


1. Police Think Jealousy Inspired Wongtalay’s Actions


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The Phuket News reports that Lieutenant Colonel Sanit Nookhong of the Thalang Police said the video was posted to Facebook at 5:45 p.m. local time. Wongtalay’s girlfriend Jiranuch “Bew” Trirat called police at 6:30 to report the video she saw on Wongtalay’s Facebook page.

Jiranuch told police that her boyfriend believed she was cheating on him. Phuket News quotes her as saying “At 3am yesterday he checked my phone and threatened to kill me …. I was very afraid and ran away from the house and left Beta [their 11-month-old daughter] with him.”

Jiranuch added that when she returned home later that afternoon, neither Wongtalay nor Beta were there. She tried calling Wongtalay on the phone but was unsuccessful; then she checked his Facebook page and saw the video.

Jiranuch later told Reuters that she and Wongtalay were actually man and wife, and have lived together fr over a year. The relationship started out well, she said, but Wongtalay soon turned violent.


2. The Video Stayed up Nearly 24 Hours Before Facebook Took it Down


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An unnamed Facebook spokesman based in Singapore sent Reuters an emailed statement saying “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.”

According to Reuters, the steps leading to the video’s removal were as follows: first, police learned about the video and sent a removal request to Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy, which contacted Facebook on Tuesday afternoon (local time) and requested the video’s removal. Somsak Khaosuwan said that the Thai government would not press charges against Facebook. “We will not be able to press charges against Facebook, because Facebook is the service provider and they acted according to their protocol when we sent our request. They cooperated very well.”

Two video clips of the child’s murder were uploaded to Facebook, and drew a combined total of about 370,000 views before being taken down.


3. Wongtalay Committed Suicide After Murdering His Daughter

The Phuket News reports that the murder video shows Wongtalay tying a rope around his daughter’s neck before lowering her over the edge of a building.

“In the video, Wuttisan shows a bottle of liquid, which we later confirmed was kratom drink,” said Sanit Nookhong of the Thalang Police. “He gives the girl, Beta, a drink and has a drink too. After that he ties a rope around the girl’s neck and lowers her down. You can hear the girl crying and finally the crying stops. Then he pulls her up onto the roof top and unties the rope from her neck.”

This initial news report did not mention Wongtalay’s ultimate fate. However, Reuters later added that Wongtalay committed suicide just after murdering his daughter — though his death, unlike hers, was not broadcast over Facebook. Police eventually found his dead body next to his daughter’s in a deserted building in the city of Phuket.


4. YouTube Also Refuses to Host the Video


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With Twitter and YouTube, among others, offering rival live-streaming products, doing so could put it at a disadvantage.

But as a result, there will inevitably be further outrages and criticism because Facebook Live’s popularity makes it all but impossible for the firm to keep a human eye over each broadcast.

After Facebook took down the video, it copies of it could still be found on YouTube — until the BBC alerted the company to its presence, at which point YouTube took all copies of the video down.

The BBC said that YouTube took down the video within 15 minutes of learning of its presence. The video showed 2,351 views just before the BBC made its report.

YouTube also issued a statement saying it “has clear policies that outline what’s acceptable to post and we quickly remove videos that break our rules when they’re flagged.” The video-sharing service is allowing videos of news reports about the killing to remain.


5. Facebook is “Reviewing” Its Content-Posting Policies in Light of Recent Atrocities

Facebook, Thailand, Facebook Live, murder

Facebook logos decorate a wall in Vertou, France. (Getty)

On April 17, after the Steve Stephens/Robert Godwin video inspired international horror, Facebook’s VP of Global Operations Justin Osofsky posted an article titled “Community Standards and Reporting,” discussing Facebook’s plan for dealing with such matters in the future.

Regarding the Stephens/Godwin videos, Osofsky said, “we are reviewing our reporting flows to be sure people can report videos and other material that violates our standards as easily and quickly as possible…. We disabled the suspect’s account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the murder video, and two hours after receiving a report of any kind. But we know we need to do better.” Osofsky went on to say that, among other strategies, Facebook is looking into the use of developing artificial intelligence to identify such problematic videos rather than wait for human viewers to see and report objectionable content.

But Leo Kelion, a technology-desk editor for the BBC, points out that what Facebook hasn’t discussed is “the idea of scrapping Facebook Live altogether. With Twitter and YouTube, among others, offering rival live-streaming products, doing so could put it at a disadvantage. But as a result, there will inevitably be further outrages and criticism because Facebook Live’s popularity makes it all but impossible for the firm to keep a human eye over each broadcast.”


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