Published on October 11th, 2013 | by admin

The Social Network Series: Crimespotting

As we have become a society driven to constantly update our various social media with our whereabouts, our meal plans, and even our pet’s birthdays, it seems only natural that confessions to crimes past, present, and future end up on there as well.

I’m remembering a case recently where a man posted on Facebook a bloody picture of his wife after he shot and killed her. He was, of course, arrested.

But what if the crime has yet to be committed?

Take the Aurora Massacre. A mentally disturbed man named James Holmes opened fire on a line of moviegoers, thinking he was The Joker, Batman’s arch-nemesis. He killed 12 people and injured many more, and disavowed all responsibility for his actions by claiming insanity.  However, the media has recently unveiled disturbing posts from his Facebook and online dating profiles that suggest he knew exactly what he was doing. Before the massacre, Holmes reportedly posted a Facebook status update that asked, “Will you visit me in prison?”

I wonder whether it’s the responsibility of the public to take something like a disturbing status update to the police.

I’m of the opinion that most, if not all, of what people post on social media sites is a cry for attention. I know if I ever see anything that could be a red flag on a social media site, I don’t take it seriously. A friend of mine once posted a picture of himself pointing a gun at his own head, but we were in high school and no one really takes posts like that seriously in high school.

Maybe alerting the police to such an update is too much of an extreme. What about to a mental health professional? Don’t most of the people who end up shooting up a school or a naval yard have a history of attempting and failing to receive mental help? Maybe their chances would be better if someone else tried to get involved.

There are always risks to butting in, but if that risk ends with a school not being shot up, why not take it?

Sanjana Chand
Technical Writer, SS8

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