Douyin users criticize 'baiting crowd' for egging on Chinese influencer's livestream suicide

A Douyin influencer who livestreamed her suicide led other users to question the social media platform's prevention efforts and the “bait crowd” phenomenon in China's version of TikTok.

What Happened: Luo Xiao Maomao, 25, posted a video about Douyin on the afternoon of October 14th, in which she stated that she was severely depressed and, according to SupChina, "has hit rock bottom".
Luo thanked her 760,000+ fans "for everything" and added that the video would likely be the last she would post. "If you want to know why I said that, check out my livestream later," Luo continued.
During the fashion influencer's livestream later that day, around 1,200 viewers watched her drink a bottle of pesticide, which led some of them to debate whether their actions were serious or a stunt.
Luo finally grabbed her throat and couldn't stop gagging.
The influencer reportedly turned off her camera and called an ambulance. She was later taken to a hospital where she died the next day.

Cry for help: After the news of her death, some social media users wondered if this could have been prevented if Douyin had intervened according to Luo's post that afternoon.
Some internet users even condemned those who indirectly caused their deaths, calling them "cold-blooded killers". One Weibo user said the livestream was Luo's last cry for help and called the people who urged her to commit suicide "pure monsters."
Doudou Rongyi E, a Douyin user who was a close friend of Luo, announced that it was not her intention to end her life during this livestream. She allegedly tried to get the attention of her ex-boyfriend Zhào Ruòlín, Global Times reported on 8Days.
Zhào, a basketball player, has over 2 million followers on Douyin. According to Doudou, Luo became the target of the basketball player's envious female fans after they started dating. Luo has been trying to reconcile her relationship with Zhào since their summer breakup.
Comments during Luo's livestream included "Oh my God" and "Good for you," as she showed difficulty breathing. One user who was banned on Douyin after Luo's death wrote, "Haha, you really did it" after drinking the pesticide.
Luo's death is another case of "bait crowd," a form of phenomenon in which a group of united anger people have against another person threatens acts such as self-harm and suicide. A similar incident went viral in 2018 when people cheered a sexual assault victim after jumping off a building in Qingyang, Gansu Province, China.

Criticism: Other internet users also questioned Douyin's delayed response to prevent the suicide. The platform has an option that allows users to report “malicious content” that may encourage self-harm or suicide.
A Zhihu user reportedly reported the video to Douyin that afternoon, but the moderators felt the post did not violate community guidelines. However, Douyin withdrew his original decision 12 hours after Luo's last livestream.
The social media platform reiterated its stance against harassment and bullying in its statement after Luo's death. It also posted a list of banned accounts that violated community guidelines.

Luo is the fourth known Chinese influencer to have passed away since July 2021, The Independent Singapore reported.

Featured image via Sohu
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