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Thread: Social Media Murder

  1. #1

    Default Social Media Murder

    Has it finally come down to this? Has our society reached its lowest point ever?

    As I'm sure everyone knows, a young television reporter and cameraman were shot down Wednesday in the middle of a live interview in Virginia. The reporter screamed and turned to run as the camera fell to the ground. The cameraman basically filmed his own murder, as well as the reporter's, and captured the suspect's face in the process.

    A few hours later, the story got even more disturbing. Several hours after the shooting, a Twitter account began tweeting, singling out the deceased victims with the statement 'I filmed the shooting see Facebook.' His Facebook account showed the recorded video with the gun barrel aimed at the victims.

    A murder designed to be carried out in social media. A horrifying live execution by a disgruntled ex-employee who uploaded the graphic footage to his Facebook and Twitter accounts, all while being pursued by the Virginia State Police.

    A shooting to be carried live without warning. And if you missed it; a replay posted on his social media accounts. In this selfie age of posting our lives online perhaps we shouldn't be surprised it would eventually happen. Armed with a gun and a body mounted camera, he lay in waiting for the right moment to open fire. And when he did, he recorded it all the while. Twitter and Facebook removed the footage as soon as they were made aware of it, but by that time it had gone viral, and it lives on in all its horror.

    This wasn't a movie or video game. It was another senseless slaughter of innocent people by a disturbed individual who should never have been able to buy a gun. We've seen it before with Columbine and Sandy Hook, however this is the first mass murder designed for social media. Very disturbing.

    Roy Peter Clark of the Pointer Journalism Institute stated online:

    "The tools of the digital age, like all technologies, are morally neutral. They can be used to inform, inspire and console. And we learn again today that they can be used with murderous rage to blot out everything that is human and decent."

    Social media has been used in the past to provide evidence of a crime, but it seems to have crossed a new line where it is now part of the motive in committing the crime. The gunman clearly knew he would reach a wide social media audience with this final act.

    The corporate media itself used to be primarily responsible for reporting news and other information in real time. This crime however demonstrates that the power is no longer in the hands of the corporations, but in fact it is distributed across all individuals around the world.

    Social media companies have a responsibility in how they address violent content, but so do we as individuals.

    Last edited by Starrunner; 28-Aug-2015 at 13:20.

  2. #2


    Our society hasn't reached its lowest point ever. Individuals or organised groups of people have been doing terrible things for thousands of years. That said, what happened in Virginia and the fallout from the shooting has been an especially grim and unsettling debacle.

    I think you're right about news now being in the hands of ordinary individuals. You only have to look at how many people have followed issues like the Crimea dispute or Ukrainian riots through apps like Periscope, which have gained huge traction in an extremely short space of time. We have certain responsibilities as individuals, but compared to news corporations who are bound by a plethora of rules and red tape, we also have the freedom to showcase the grotesque, the inspiring and the shocking in the world, on our own terms. And depending on what kind of individuals we are, that can be a wonderful liberty or a dangerous power.

    Social media - like all supposedly neutral tools - has been a force for a huge amount of good and the odd, highly-publicised example of human depravity. Twitter, Facebook et al. have brought us closer together, made us care more about the plight of people in distant lands, and helped develop tolerance and reform for many marginalised groups and causes. But it's also allowed people to more easily explore their grisly voyeurism. That's not a new thing. People used to go and watch public hangings or the drowning of witches, but the scale and self-aggrandisement of creating, producing and sharing such violent, visceral material for personal notoriety is greater than ever before.

  3. #3


    On the other hand....there's uninstall, or the nuclear option, an off button. If you're bothered by social media, don't go there. I had a twitter account for a while just to see what all the fuss was about, but it seemed completely pointless so I deleted it.

    The Virginia TV killings were clearly a case of disgruntled ex-employee going postal. Race, social media, and all the rest were only tangential to the issue.

  4. #4


    The responsibility falls on us, the consumers. The fact that the tweet, Facebook post, and video went viral proves the murderer's point. We want to watch. Until we all stop, this will continue. Period.

  5. #5


    I'm sorry, but why are you only worried about this as a 'Social Media Issue'? This murder was also broadcast on good old fashioned television, broadcast over the air where it was free to be received by anyone in service range or on a cable/satellite provider who carried the channel. In fact, it was broadcast LIVE on Television before they cut back to the studio after the crew had been shot. There was at least a delay before it and the shooters perspective was uploaded to the internet. People watching their morning television, getting ready for work, giving their children breakfast, or relaxing after a long night shift watched these people die on their TVs in real time. THAT is what hit social media WELL before the shooter was able to post anything.

  6. #6


    I don't think there's anything special about the social media postings. A lot of murders are done as a way of getting attention. The killers choose high-profile targets or locations and often try to get media attention (just the act of killing people is often enough for them to know they will be on the news). So the social media side of this incident is just a natural extension of the killer's attention-seeking psychopathy.

    As always, there's been a long of hand-wringing in the media about how to cover the story and trying to balance the public's appetite for sensational news without being accused of giving the killer the attention he wanted (and potentially encouraging other would-be-killers).

    But I wouldn't say it means that society has hit its "lowest point". It was just one bloke, not society as a whole. Crime rates have been falling for decades.

    I still can't understand why Americans let lunatics buy guns. Apparently the right to buy lethal weapons is more important than the right not to be killed by them. Which, to be honest, as a non-American, is pretty hard to get my head round. :-/

  7. #7


    Yeah social media is crap, I will never use it. And I'm not trying to be racist but America's gun laws are pathetic. I can't believe how some of the pro-gun people think that shootings like this would be improved if more people had guns. In 1997 we had a mass shooting in Australia, and the gun laws were made more strict and we haven't had one since.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by Milko View Post
    Yeah social media is crap, I will never use it. And I'm not trying to be racist but America's gun laws are pathetic. I can't believe how some of the pro-gun people think that shootings like this would be improved if more people had guns. In 1997 we had a mass shooting in Australia, and the gun laws were made more strict and we haven't had one since.
    ...I don't think that the word 'Racist' means what you think it means. o.o

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by AshleyAshes View Post
    ...I don't think that the word 'Racist' means what you think it means. o.o
    care to enlighten me?

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Milko View Post
    care to enlighten me?
    Well, you said 'I not trying to be racist but' which is something idiots usually say before saying something SUPREMELY racist. But instead your entire post doesn't touch on the topic of racism at all. It's baffling as to why you said 'I'm not trying to be racist but', as it seemingly has no place in what you said. I can only presume that you that racist means something OTHER than holding views on the basis of RACE.

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