Earlier today, TIME published Dr. Mary Aiken’s Op-Ed Facebook Must Stop Live-Streaming Murder From Becoming the New Normal.
The first few paragraphs of her piece are below and a link to the full article follows:
Steve Stephens made a chilling video titled “Easter day slaughter”, in which he filmed himself lethally shooting an apparently random victim, Robert Godwin, Sr., who was 74 years old. Stephens published his crime on his Facebook page.
Stephens even offered insights into his motivations. He claimed that he had broken up with “the love of [his] life”, that he had he “lost everything” gambling. He also provided evidence of premeditation: “I’ve run out of options… and now I’m just on some murder-type sh-t.” This justification footage is hauntingly similar to a video uploaded to YouTube by Elliot Rodger , a 22-year-old virgin who killed six people and wounded thirteen on May 23, 2014 in Santa Barbara, California. Rodger then took his own life by shooting himself in his BMW. On April 18, Stephens shot and killed himself in his own car in Pennsylvania, after a brief pursuit by police.
It took Facebook two hours to take down the Steve Stephens content. By then, it had been viewed over 150,000 times. Social media companies want live, cutting-edge, raw, captivating content that has the potential to go viral. What they are getting is live-streaming of extreme criminal violence. It’s going viral.
Most murders or sexual assaults occur in secluded and private locations: one victim, one assailant, nobody watching. Murderers and rapists, like most criminals, tend to cover their tracks to avoid being caught. In the Lonina case, the cyber crime was live-streamed, and in the Stephens case, posted on Facebook Live, before potential audiences of hundreds of millions. Rodger seemed to desire a similar viewership.
Disturbing acts committed in public on social media are becoming more common — from bullying to suicide, sex crimes, murder and the torture of animals and children. For those of us working in the field of cyberpsychology — the study of the impact of technology on human behavior — the sense of urgency is escalating.
To read her full piece click here.
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About Dr. Mary Aiken
Mary is a forensic cyber psychologist who specializes in the impact of technology on human behavior and has written on issues relating to the intersection where humans and technology collide.
She is a member of the Strategic Advisory Group to Paladin Capital Group, an Academic Advisor to the European Cyber Crime Centre at Europol, an Adjunct Associate Professor at University College Dublin, and has conducted research and training workshops with multiple global agencies, from INTERPOL to the FBI and the White House. Random House recently published her new book The Cyber Effect and Paladin supported the release of it in the U.S., along with The Honorable and Mrs. H. Lee Buchanan.
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