Facebook has said it would block the livestream of a Frenchman suffering from an incurable condition who wanted to broadcast his death on the social media platform.
Alain Cocq announced on Facebook on Saturday he was now refusing all food, drink and medicine after French President Emmanuel Macron turned down his request for euthanasia.
Cocq, 57, has been suffering from a rare degenerative disease for 34 years that causes the walls of his arteries to stick together. He said he believed he would die in less than a week and would broadcast his death from Saturday morning from his home in Dijon, northeast France.
“The road to deliverance begins and believe me, I am happy,” he wrote in a post announcing he had “finished his last meal”.
“I know the days ahead are going to be difficult, but I have made my decision and I am calm,” he added.
Facebook has been increasingly criticised over the way it polices the content it carries and said later on Saturday its rules did not allow it to show suicide.
“Although we respect [Cocq’s] decision to want to draw attention to this complex question, following expert advice we have taken measures to prevent the live broadcast on Alain’s account,” a Facebook spokesman said.
“Our rules do not allow us to show suicide attempts.”
Call to supporters
Cocq had been trying to post another video earlier on Saturday when he messaged: “Facebook is blocking my video broadcast until September 8.
“It is up to you now,” he said in a message to supporters before giving out Facebook’s French address “so you can let them know what you think about their methods of restricting free speech”.
“There will be a back-up within 24 hours” to run the video, he added.
His condition has caused brain aneurysms, and he experiences convulsions if he does not take his medicine. He has said he experiences constant pain. He was fed by a drip and his digestive system is connected to a colostomy bag.
Cocq had written to Macron asking to be given a substance that would allow him to die in peace, but the president wrote back to him explaining this was not allowed under French law.
“Because I am not above the law, I am not able to comply with your request,” Macron told Cocq in a letter, which the patient published on his Facebook page.
“I cannot ask anyone to go beyond our current legal framework … Your wish is to request active assistance in dying, which is not currently permitted in our country.”
Macron added a handwritten postscript to his letter, saying: “With all my personal support and profound respect.”
France’s neighbours Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands have adopted laws that allow medically assisted dying in some cases. But France has resisted that step, in part under pressure from the Catholic Church.
The Claeys-Leonetti law on the end of life, adopted in 2016, authorises deep sedation but only for people whose prognosis is threatened in the short term.
Cocq said he hoped his struggle would be remembered and “go down in the long term” as a step towards changing the law and the “agony” it caused in its current state.