Posted in Car Accidents on May 3, 2022
Many officials across the world have been concerned with a growing frequency of incidents involving people attempting a variety of stunts for social media. One of the many reasons that this occurs is a desire for engagement on social media platforms. As the system currently stands, people are rewarded for the attention of others, either through monetary benefits, the gifting of free products, or potential future collaborations with more prominent internet celebrities. Despite the glitz and glam, sometimes the desire for engagement goes a little too far.
On social media sites such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others, individuals vie for the attention of others. Oftentimes, views and other forms of engagement will produce contacts with brands, creating partnerships that will benefit the creator in a number of ways. Platforms themselves may also reward the creator, shelling out thousands of dollars to keep viewership rates on their platform high. This creates a clear incentive for creators to go above and beyond in their content creation as their fellow creators attempt to do the same.
This constant push for a larger and more engaging audience is exactly what led to Trevor Jacob risking the lives of local community members in California. This self-proclaimed daredevil is active on the video-sharing platform, YouTube. In the initially-uploaded video, the amateur pilot appears to struggle with the mechanical components of his small plane, leading him to make the decision to parachute from the aircraft. It was later reported that there was more to this video than meets the eye.
As onlookers observed the plane plummet into Los Padres National Forest, California, some questioned whether this was actually a freak accident at all. The community was concerned with why he would spend so much time recording the accidents if he really feared for his life, even going as far as to mention the oddity that was uniquely-positioned cameras affixed to the exterior of his plane. As it came out, the entire stunt was allegedly manufactured and exercised in an attempt at a few million views.
Jacob can be seen with a selfie stick before, during, and after the wrecking of his plane. Many have been critical of the stunt as the lives of people in Los Padres, and surrounding areas had their lives put at stake, unknowingly, as a passenger plane barreled down towards the ground for a Youtube video. What was even more harrowing to many was the lack of concern and observed cheerfulness in Jacob after the accident.
As one might expect, the Federal Aviation Administration confronted the incident head-on. On April 11th, 2022, the FAA proclaimed that Jacob was banned from flying or operating a single-engine aircraft with the revoking of his pilot’s license. The administration is quoted as stating that Jacob “demonstrated lack of care, judgment, and responsibility by choosing to jump out of an aircraft solely so [he] could record the footage of the crash.” They continued with a remark on his actions, stating that Jacob indicates “that [he] presently lacks the degree of care, judgment, and responsibility required of a certificate holder.”
Their defense is mainly propped up on evidence they claim is inconsistent with an attempt to properly manage an engine failure, as Jacob claims was the issue. They cited the multiple cameras attached to the outside of a plan, including one directly aimed at the propeller that supposedly failed. Jacob additionally failed to contact any air traffic control on the emergency frequency and did not appear to attempt to restart the engine by increasing airflow over the propeller. He furthermore did not even search for a safe place to land and jumped out instead.
Jacob reaffirmed his innocence, going so far as to turn off comments on his video as he received a massive amount of criticism on the video. In a follow-up video, he appeared to defend his version of the story by proclaiming that the “truth will come out.” He later expressed opinions that the FAA was mistaken in their understanding of the accident and that his engine did, in fact, go out while flying over the mountains of Los Padres National Forest.
Yet Jacob is not the only victim of the disillusion of social media engagement. Recently, a 33-year-old Flanders woman fell 100 feet to her death in the province of Luxembourg in her home country of Belgium. Zoe Snoeks was on a trip with her husband when her attempt at a selfie lead to the horrifying accident. After falling, Snoeks landed in a river down below, only to be recovered by a group of rescuers a short time later.
Her husband, Joeri Janssen, turned around to tend to their dogs at the request of his wife. He claims that as he turned back around to face Snoeks, who was reportedly taking selfies on the cliff’s edge, she was no longer there. Without “rustling… screams or shouts. [He] looked up and saw only dust.” Snoeks was “passionate” about taking photos and would routinely upload them to her Instagram profile.
Jacob and Snoeks are just two examples of the many people that have faced the consequences of content production for the purpose of social media engagement. In both cases, taking pictures and videos was a way to drive up likes and comments – large social media following or not. This is an increasingly prevalent issue around the world, particularly among the younger generations. It can have a profound effect on the lives of oneself, family and friends, and complete strangers who get caught up in such events.
The legal implications of these sorts of accidents can be huge. Photos, videos, and social media all have the power to cause catastrophic accidents that can result in permanently-altered lives. Law firms around the country have begun to pick up cases such as these in a way to seek justice for those wronged in freak accidents. For many, it must be reiterated that snapping a selfie or capturing that perfect video is never worth a life.