The suicide of a teenager in France that was allegedly live-streamed via the popular app Periscope this week has shone a spotlight on the harsh realities of real-time video technologies.
French authorities have opened an investigation into the suicide. The local prosecutor said Wednesday the young woman threw herself under a commuter train in the suburban Egly station, south of Paris, after claiming she had been raped by her former boyfriend. The prosecutor's statement said the woman was born in 1997, so she was 18 or 19.
On Tuesday, the woman spent more than two hours overall on Periscope, a smartphone live video-streaming app particularly popular among young people, divided in five live sessions. The last one lasted 29 minutes and seemed to have been recorded moments before she killed herself, prosecutor Eric Lallement said.
The video has been removed from Periscope.
“As great as social media is today, this is the downside,” social media expert and President of JRM Comms Jason Mollica, told Fox News.com. “There are always going to be people out there that use social media for what we don’t perceive as normal.”
“Live-streaming technologies enable people to simply live and communicate simultaneously; it brings privacy into the physical world,” added Thomas Husson, a Paris-based analyst at tech research firm Forrester Research, in an email to FoxNews.com. “With mobile, anyone can broadcast oneself with no limit.”
The teenager, whose name was not released, sent a text message to a friend of her former boyfriend a few hours before she killed herself Tuesday, Lallement said.
"In the text message, she mentions violence and a rape that her companion inflicted on her and claims she is ending her days because of the harm that the young man had done to her," he added.
The teen's video messages and cellphone have been seized by the police. An autopsy and toxicology and drug tests will be conducted over the next few days.
In her own messages, the woman spoke a lot about her life and her difficult relationship with her former boyfriend, Lallement said.
While the video has been removed from Periscope, YouTube users posted what they said were excerpts. The suicide scene itself is not visible on YouTube.
Mollica told FoxNews.com that preventing someone from live-streaming their suicide is essentially impossible. “There’s no way to control it – there’s no technology that says ‘you’re about to commit suicide, your phone is locked’,” he told FoxNews.com. “We’re going to see more things like this as social media grows.”
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Periscope, owned by Twitter, has not yet responded to a request for comment on this story from FoxNews.com.
The French case is only the latest one linked to Periscope. Last month an 18-year-old Ohio woman was accused of live-streaming the alleged rape of her 17-year-old friend, authorities said.
Social media giants certainly face a tough task clamping down on horrific footage. Last year Facebook and Twitter, along with video sharing site YouTube, rushed to remove shocking video footage that showed the shooting of two television news journalists in Virginia.
Islamic State militants have also harnessed social media to chilling effect, as evidenced by the gruesome killings posted on YouTube by the jihadist group.
“Controlling how people use these tools seems very difficult as we have seen with ISIS or this tragic event in Paris,” Husson told FoxNews.com. “Moving forward, progress in image-recognition technologies will help identifying these scenes but preventing them from happening is obviously another story.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers