Does Social Media Perpetuate Crime?

Does Social Media Perpetuate Crime?

There is no way to avoid social media. Even if you’re not a regular user of a particular platform, you’re still familiar with or can recognize the role they play in modern society. They have fundamentally changed the way relationships are built and maintained, and now play a key role in journalism and current events.

But there’s an interesting and rather horrifying phenomenon that social media also seems to provide to some users: a platform from which to broadcast crimes.

Don’t get me wrong- I love the broadcast nature of social media. It’s insane to think about how, in just the last decade, creators and individuals now have the power to reach thousands and even millions of people without needing to dip into traditional mainstream rivers. We’ve all witnessed how mainstream media and corporations can really fuck things up, so to be able to remove the pressures of advertisers and/or expectations for results and audience numbers has brought about an unprecedented level of content and access. Every social media platform has desperately sought to integrate new broadcasting methods, searching for processes to make it easier to attract more users. But this has lead to a slew of outrageous activities and crimes being shared almost instantaneously online.

It used to be considered stupid to record and post your crimes alone. Remember that milk jug prank from a few years ago? Three teenagers went around supermarkets throwing gallon jugs of milk and juice around supermarkets and pretending to be injured as a result. They ended up getting charged with multiple counts of destruction of property and disorderly conduct. I sat at my desk and wondered what kind of special idiot shares video evidence of themselves breaking the law? But it seems every other day now, we’re reading headlines latest crime and/or death involving social media. There’s everything from deaths from attempted selfies to Snapchat stunts gone wrong to domestic abuse over a Facebook relationship status change. There is an overwhelming amount to discuss, but the ones grabbing attention most recently seem to be incidents involving the live streaming of crimes.

By now, we’re all familiar with the tragic death of Robert Goodwin Sr, where Steve Stephens randomly shot Goodwin while streaming live on Facebook. Or 13-year-old Malachi Hemphill accidentally shooting himself on Instagram Live. More recently, Wuttisan Wongtalay in Thailand streamed himself killing his baby daughter in an abandoned hotel on Facebook- and the video remained on the man’s Facebook page for almost 24 hours. Thailand police had to contact Facebook about the video, at which point it was promptly removed. Unfortunately, it is still being widely distributed on other sites.

So here’s the million dollar question: does social media perpetuate violent crime?