People Are Using Social Media to Share Murders. Is That Historically Significant?

In the news recently there’s been headlines about a man in Ohio uploading a grizzly homemade murder video onto Facebook. Even more recent news from Thailand, a man uploaded his killing of his 11-month old daughter, and then killed himself.

These kinds of things feel disturbing, sometimes more than the average killing in the news. But why? People have been killing, memorializing it, and sharing it in strange ways for as long as mankind has existed, and executions used to be publics events. These kinds of acts have historical predecessors, and yet the Facebook killings feel historically significant.

It’s hard to tell if that feeling is a passing experience, or if it’s a signal that the ubiquity of Facebook and social media, and the ease of access to them has made these kinds of highly viewed killings something truly different than its predecessors.

When Facebook was developing their live broadcast capability they actually knew that people would eventually use it to broadcast murders. It sounded weird to me when I first heard that, but of course, they knew. People had already been uploading murders to twitter and YouTube, and with the history of killers working to immortalize their work, and the rise of the ubiquity of Facebook, it was very predictable.

We’re sure to see more killings like this is the future, and we in the media world ought to pay attention and discuss what it means for the future of social media. Is this an important paragraph in the history of social media, or just a footnote?

-Dallas Schwab, @schwabsyy

Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism