Let's not make the latest mass shooter into a celebrity

Two & Out
By James Peters
March 15, 2019 - 10:24am Updated: March 15, 2019 - 11:07am
Image Credit: The Canadian Press

THE INVESTIGATION INTO THE MOSQUE ATTACKS in New Zealand is in its early stages, but we do know a few things about what happened.

Dozens of people were killed at two mosques attending Friday services.

The suspect had posted horrific white supremacist rantings online before the attacks.

It's believed the accused shooter was in part influenced by Alexandre Bissonnette, the man who carried out an attack on a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

And we know that the shooter live streamed the attack on Facebook.

Legacy media like newspaper and television stations have long been criticized for making celebrities out of mass murderers and terrorists.

Now, that criticism can rightly be passed on to social media platforms who carry or share video of the attacks.

That's exactly the type of notoriety the shooter hoped for.

There is a fine line between properly informing the public about the details of the incident and turning it into a spectacle that lionizes the shooter, however unintentionally.

You won't find any newsroom worth its salt sharing the shooter's video of the attack.

Having said that, it will be available to anyone with a computer who knows any basic search skills.

If you believe that's not appropriate, that messages of hate and acts of violence like this should not be spread on social media, then you should take action.

Demand more stringent standards and better monitoring from those social media platforms.

It's not just Reddit and 4chan who are havens for hate and violence. It's rampant on the titans of social media, too: Facebook and Twitter.

And it's closer to home than you might believe.

Step one to shutting down these expressions of extreme hatred is showing that they have no audience, and therefore no place for acceptance.

Step two is resisting any urge to seek out or click on that video.

That's one way we can start to make a difference.

——

Editor's Note: This opinion piece reflects the views of its author, and does not necessarily represent the views of CFJC Today or the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.