Teen accused of live-streaming rape of friend on video app Periscope

An American teenager is facing charges for live-streaming the alleged rape of her 17-year-old friend on video app Periscope.

CNN reported that the alleged rape happened at a home in Columbus, Ohio on Feb 27.

According to prosecutor Ron O'Brien, the accused, Marina Alexeevna Lonina, 18, is being charged for filming the act while an acquaintance, Raymond Boyd Gates, 29, allegedly committed the rape.

The horrific incident was discovered after an unnamed individual saw the live broadcast on the Twitter-owned Periscope app, BBC reported, and reported it to authorities.

"A friend of Lonina's in another state watched the Periscope live-stream of the rape... and authorities were contacted," said O'Brien in a press release on Wednesday (April 13).

Both Lonina and Gates face charges of rape, kidnapping, sexual battery and pandering sexually-oriented matter involving a minor.

The two-year-old Periscope app was acquired in Jan 2015 by Twitter, and it currently has more than 10 million users.

While Periscope's community guidelines bans pornographic or overtly sexual content, in reality, it is difficult to control what users choose to broadcast on live streaming apps.

This is not the first time an alleged offence has been live-streamed on the app.

According to the BBC, some of the questionable live-streamed videos include a gang fight in London, a woman filming herself driving while intoxicated, and robbers live-streaming their crime in Utah.

Periscope has also been called out for allowing other kinds of illegal activities such as piracy to take place. It has faced numerous copyright infringement complaints, after several of its users live-streamed televised pay per view events such as the Floyd Mayweather, Jr vs. Manny Pacquiao match, NFL, and the Premier League.

As the popularity of live-streaming increases, tech companies such as Facebook have started to jump on the bandwagon.

On April 12, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced at the annual F8 developer conference that live-streaming will be actively pushed on Facebook feeds.

The feature, called Facebook Live, will also be opened to developers to integrate on their apps.

grongloh@sph.com.sg