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Teen’s Violent Murder Ends Up On Instagram - Carlos Gamino
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Teen’s Violent Murder Ends Up On Instagram

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By Carlos Gamino

Social media giants have notoriously had a tough time policing content on their platforms. It seems like Facebook is in the news every other week for peddling private messages between usersallowing privacy violations and generally making poor decisions that are contributing to the downfall of society as we know it.

But this week, it’s Facebook-owned Instagram that’s facing criticism for allowing shockingly graphic photos of a murdered teenager’s body to spread like wildfire.

Bianca Devins’ alleged killer, Brandon Clark, posted grisly photos of her body on the social media site before he stabbed himself in front of police officers. Then, he posted selfies on Snapchat while lying on the green tarp that covered Devins’ body as he bled from self-inflicted stab wounds to his neck – all in front of the police, who arrested him after a brief struggle. 

The hashtag #ripbianca was trending on Instagram, where the photos proliferated faster than any platform could remove them.

A spokeswoman for Instagram said in a statement, “Our thoughts go out to those affected by this tragic event. We are taking every measure to remove this content from our platforms.”

Investigators now believe that Devins and Clark met through Instagram, trading messages before meeting face-to-face. Police say that the two had an argument over where they were going – to a concert in New York City – and that may have resulted in Devins’ death. 

So why aren’t social media companies doing more?

After the horrific events that unfolded when the “Facebook killer” killed a man and then himself, as well as the livestream of a group of people assaulting a teen with mental disabilities and the Christchurch massacre was broadcast across Facebook, media companies aren’t facing any consequences.

But should they?

The chair of the Australian Communications and Media Authority Nerida O’Loughlin doesn’t think so.

“Instead the ACMA considers that this investigation would more usefully prompt a productive conversation with industry about whether its codes are adequately framed to deal with this type of material in the future – in particular, perpetrator-generated, livestreamed extreme violent material,” she said.

Facebook did change its rules for livestreaming. The company says those who break its “most serious policies” can be banned from using Facebook Live for a specific period of time.

What Do You Think?

Do you think social media platforms have a responsibility to address this kind of content? Is there anything they can do about it, or is the problem bigger than anything social media companies can handle?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please feel free to share them with me on Facebook or on Twitter. Join the conversation and make your voice heard!

Carlos Gamino