The social media is a powerful communication tool because it allows people from different parts of the world to communicate in real time whether via a simple chat or video call. It also enables users to show each other and the rest of the world what they are doing.
The unfortunate part is that this online tool has been taken advantaged by people who have cruel intentions. As such, many have utilized the popular social networking sites particularly Facebook to livestream their violent and criminal acts. These people are described as seeking an audience to broadcast their inhumane acts including murder, rape and torture.
In the U.S., for instance, there had been several cases where Facebook played a major part in documenting a crime. Specifically, the Facebook live feature had been popular among users with criminal intent in recent incidents. Despite an aggressive campaign urging users to use the live feature only to share inspiring and heartwarming life events, many have used it for their personal vendetta.
TV Crew Shooting
In 2013, a man named Vester Lee Flanagan II shot his former colleagues, two TV crew who were doing a live broadcast. He claimed in a letter sent to ABC News that the shooting incident at the Charleston, South Carolina church influenced him to do the act. He then posted on Twitter and Facebook the videos he took that showed him approaching the scene and then raising a gun and firing at the TV crew. Reporter Alison Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward suffered fatal shots.
Reports revealed Flanagan was a former reporter of the same media company but got furious after Parker allegedly made racist comments against him and after Ward reported him to their human resources. Psychologists confirmed the man wanted revenge but wanted to show people through social media how he would commit homicide. They agree that people who commit violent crimes have a distorted view thinking that what they’re doing is good and they often want as many people as possible to know about it.
Murder in Paris
In 2016, Larossi Abballa who’s a known French ISIS sympathizer held hostage and eventually killed a cop and his girlfriend inside their home in the Magnanville suburb in Paris. He then went on Facebook Live to talk about what he would do with couple’s three-year-old son. He even threatened to attack the Euro 2016 soccer tournament and urged his supporters to make the Euro into a graveyard.
Abballa was later killed by police when they raided the home. The couple’s son was saved. The man’s Facebook page has already been deleted by propagandists continue to distribute the video online.
Assault in Sweden
In January this year, three men were arrested in Sweden for allegedly raping a woman in an apartment located in Uppsala outside of Stockholm. The police were able to easily trace them as the suspects broadcast the assault via Facebook Live. People who saw it immediately reported to the police.
As most people own smartphones today and can easily access social media, it is has become so easy for criminals and even those who just want to take revenge to take advantage of these tools, said criminal attorney Gus Kostopoulos. But victims and their families should not let these offenders go scot-free because they can repeat the act many times over if no action is taken to put them to jail.
A media psychologist, Pamela Rutledge for her part, pointed out that social media has become the new tool for bragging including those who commit crimes. They’re using social networking sites to boost their sense of self-importance knowing that they have a large audience, she added.