“We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months”- President Obama.

In light of yesterday’s school shooting that the USA have suffered in Oregon, I thought it would be interesting to look at the role of social media in the before- and after math of the events.

On October 1st, 2015, a gunman named Chris Harper-Mercer shot nine people dead at Umpqua Community College.

The mass shooting is the latest incident of a chain of gun violence events in the US. Back in June, nine people were murdered, at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. Like after each incident, President Obama is demanding tighter gun laws. At a national level, the debate of ready availability of firearms and the role of mental health is undergoing.

However, perhaps the role of what happens online should also be up for debate as another important factor.

Subsequently, after the shooting, media outlets have drawn a link between the shooter, Harper-Mercer, and the online social media image-board 4chan. A number of outlets have drawn attention to posts on 4chan the day before the shooting, where an anonymous poster warned the public ”not to go to school in the northwest tomorrow” because ”some of you are alright”.

I attended high school in Helsinki, Finland, and from watching/reading Finnish news media, we have similarly seen this in the diverse school shootings here, where the shooters had ”warned” the public on a social media platform.

I thought it would be interesting to draw a parallel to internal communication that we discussed in class, and how/if organizations should monitor their employees’ use of social media. We can also link this to the question that is being debated by journalists and social media activists: how far should online platforms police speech and communication?

 

The debate of how social media should be monitored more has included social justice activists blaming social media platforms for their “hands-off approach to regulating speech”, which allows trolling and “hate speeches to thrive” and “mass killing plans to get egged on”.

What do you guys think about the idea of tighter regulations on social media posts? Do you see it as a violation of privacy or perhaps a positive step towards national security?

-Bernadette

You can read more about it here:

Moon, Angela (2015, October). “Oregon shooting threat may have circled on social media”, Found October 2, 2015, from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/02/us-usa-shooting-oregon-threats-idUSKCN0RV5W720151002

 

4 thoughts on ““We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months”- President Obama.

  1. Interesting read. This also reminds me of the issue regarding the ISIS terrorist organization’s use of social media, especially Twitter for attracting potential recruits. Of course, authorities have taken the moves. FBI tends to create fake profiles as members of a terrorist group on these social media. After winning their trust via friending and interacting through social media, FBI has caught the scene and arrested them.
    Well, authorities should safeguard national security thus need to track down anti-social/terrorists behaviors online but it doesn’t necessarily have to violate the freedom of speech or general people’s privacy. And sometimes social media help them by placing the Trojan horse in the path of terrorists.
    But still, a lot is debatable regarding FBI’s move. The attorneys of the accused have claimed that the FBI actually pushed the young people to go to Syria and join the ISIS although they might not even be thinking of doing that.
    Any other thoughts?

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  2. I think the topic on use of social media for terror-related activities is an interesting one. Acknowledging the fact that relevant authorities like the FBI are making to efforts to counter terrorist groups on social media, I believe the role of the social media companies themselves like Facebook and Twitter plays another critical role.

    The US Senate Intelligence Committee has recently approved a bill that requires social media companies to alert the authorities when they are aware of terrorist or extreme content posted on their platforms. Facebook adopts a zero-tolerance policy when users posts contents that promotes terrorism and takes these posts, pages or groups down when they clearly violates Facebook social media ethical standards. Also, Twitter expressed that they want to protect its platform from abuse by terrorist organizations and proactively removes user accounts suspected to proliferate extremism.

    Yet, these social media companies face another dilemma – it is difficult to distinguish between content posted by terrorist groups and opinions posts by legitimate users. Also, by intentionally removing extreme content and propaganda on social media, are Facebook and Twitter practicing censorship to suppress facts from the public? After all, it is every netizens’ right to voice their opinion in the social media space, upload content and receive information freely. Therefore, as many cybercrime experts have described, there is no one solution that can solve the root of this problem because ‘ As soon as one site or account is taken down, another pops up’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your insightful posting. Censorship and freedom of speech is a never-ending issue regarding digital communication. We will cover this issue more thoroughly in Week 11 especially in relation to “China’s great big wall” and so forth.

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  3. I have been very frustrated with US’s progress on passing the Gun Control Bill. it makes no economic or social sense to NOT pass this bill. If social media can be employed to campaign for this it will help US with this it will greatly help improve public perception of gun control and motivate the government to pass the bill. I get especially put off when I see people thumping their chests about Constitutional Rights and the 2nd Amendment. It is a predictable and annoying tantrum which the Government should be overruling for the good of the people.

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