This is why you should never get your news from Youtubers.
It’s well established by this point that members of the Halilintar family, some of whom are famous social media influencers and Youtubers, rely heavily on clickbait for their videos. Sometimes, the line between clickbait and deliberate misinformation is blurred, as was the case when one young member of the family courted controversy for allegedly spreading misinformation regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak and a suicide attempt in Los Angeles, where they went for holiday.
Saaih Halilintar, the younger brother of hugely popular Youtuber Atta Halilintar, uploaded a video to his channel on Feb. 5 titled, 2 orang kena VIRUS CORONA!! Ada 1 orang mau Bvnvh dIr! Depan mata!! *S3ReM* (Two people infected by the coronavirus!! A person attempted suicide in front of my eyes!! *Scary*), as if the two events were linked.
In the video, Saaih narrated that he was in LA and was on his way to buy face masks to protect himself from the virus, because, according to him, two people in the city had been infected by the deadly virus.
As of Feb. 12, only one person in LA had been confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus.
Later on in the video, Saaih happened upon a scene in which authorities were trying to stop a man from jumping off a scaffolding, treating the supposed suicide attempt without a single ounce of sensitivity.
“Is he going to jump or not? He might be drunk, ya,” Saaih said in the video, later adding, “They say that if the man falls, it wouldn’t hurt at all.”
At the end of the video, Saaih promoted Indonesian e-commerce platform Tokopedia as his preferred choice to buy face masks and other supplies for protection against the coronavirus.
Tokopedia said it will review its partnership with Saaih following the controversy.
Saaih has been spending his time in LA with his family as of late, but it’s not yet known if they have returned to Indonesia.
The video was taken down amid huge backlash from netizens. Up until its deletion yesterday, the 15-minute video had been viewed more than 3.2 million times.
Fellow Youtuber Victor Sam, part of the popular food and travel channel JWestBros, weighed in on the controversy in a series of stories on Instagram yesterday.
“I don’t care what the f*ck you’re doing with your life, BUT THIS IS OUT OF LINE. SUICIDE IS NOT A JOKE AND IT’S NOT SOMETHING YOU USE OR [TO] PROMOTE A F*CKIN BRAND. You’re taking advantage of someone’s misery, pain, just for the sake of your content?! YOU ARE SICK!!!!” Victor wrote.
“Somehow his ‘followers’ think there’s nothing wrong. This is not okay at all! Something is wrong with our society,” he continued.
The novel coronavirus, now officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, has now killed more than 1,100 people and infected over 45,000 as of this afternoon. The disease has so far affected at least 27 other countries around the world, including Singapore and Malaysia. Indonesia has yet to confirm a COVID-19 case in the country.
As for the man who threatened to jump, LA-based television station KTLA reported that the man, who is suspected of suffering from a mental illness, only wanted to seek attention and didn’t intend to actually jump.
Saaih started his career in the Indonesian entertainment industry with his parents and 10 siblings, who are famously known as Gen Halilintar. The family has published books about their journeys around the world, covered popular songs and produced a series of popular vlogs.
Like his older brother Atta — who was named among the top 10 in a ranking of the world’s highest earning Youtubers last year — Saaih’s Youtube channel also consists of clickbait-y vlogs, travel videos, and pranks.