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Tactical Information Systems Blog

Death by Selfie?

I may be late to the party on this one, but since we have been working on selfie authentication - our method for online identity verification using a video selfie - I've started paying more attention to the selfie phenomenon. I was given a selfie stick at SXSW last Spring and I didn't know what it was - just to give you a sense of my starting point on this journey.

Still, I was a little surprised to discover that selfie related accidents have killed more people than shark attacks. Conde Nast Traveler wrote about it and so did Huffington Post. I've never been all that worried about shark attack as a cause of death. Despite the propaganda of Discovery channel's Shark Week, I know the odds are actually quite low. Plus, I rarely get to swim in the ocean.

But it never occurred to me that there were any deaths associated with selfies. I take photographs far more often than I swim in the ocean. Can this be real? Real enough, it turns out. There were so many deaths related to selfies that the Russian Ministry of the Interior created a "safe selfie" campaign:

Russian Interior Ministry's Safe Selfie campaign

Russian Interior Ministry's Safe Selfie campaign

And according to the Wikipedia page devoted to the subject, there have been 22 deaths in 2015 related to selfies and additional incidents and injuries. It's not a large number overall and both of these ways to die are rare. Still, this is a good reminder of the importance of common sense and multitasking. If you are doing two things at once, it's important to keep situational awareness. Whether you are taking a selfie while climbing an antenna or eating a sandwich while skydiving, stay safe out there.