When it comes to violent crime, a lot of people like to blame guns. After all, bad guys use firearms to hurt other people, so clearly it’s the fault of the tool, not the tool using it.
Then the numbers are posted on social media, often with someone trying to justify gun control.
But the truth is that violent crime, particularly in this day and age, has a lot of causes. None of them are because guns are available, either. After all, our non-gun homicide rate is pretty high, too.
Yet a report out of Philadelphia makes an interesting case that social media is playing a role.
In December 2020, Shaquille Love was murdered in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Officials there believe it stemmed from a friend’s social media posting six months prior.
“A young, innocent man was murdered,” said Jennifer Schorn, an assistant district attorney for Bucks County. “He was not the intended target.”
Schorn said that the shooting was fallout from a graphic video posted online. A friend of Love’s posted to social media a video showing someone urinating on a memorial for Tommy Ballard and Zyisean McDuffie, teens who had been killed in a double murder two years prior.
That video led to the revenge shooting that caught Love in the crossfire.
“We have countless cases from various parts of our county that there is a clear connection to criminal activity following taunts that were put forth on social media,” Schorn said. “We have had warring factions for over six years now in two communities in Bucks County where the teens, the young adults, are utilizing social media and they are flashing symbols and they are taunting their warring factions, their rival factions.
“It has a name: cyberbanging. And those taunts have absolutely resulted in shootings and resulted in murders.”
Now, this is just one example, but we’ve seen others over the years. A disagreement starts on social media and then spills over into the real world with violence and blood.
Yet social media allegedly plays another role as well.
It seems that in our world where everyone is posting everything about their lives and it’s considered normal, potential killers can use social media to track down their intended target.
Unsurprisingly, some are now suing social media companies for their supposed role in this.
I disagree, of course. After all, no one is making people go out and shoot others over online disagreements. Hell, I’ve been involved in more internet arguments than I can count. None of those turned into violence.
I have my own issues with social media, but you can’t blame them for what other people do. Besides, I remember what gang violence was like in the 90s, well before social media was even a thing.
Blaming Facebook, TikTok, and others for this seems more than a little ridiculous.
That said, social media is being used and is leading to people getting into disagreements that result in violence. As a result, everyone can see the disagreements that are resulting in blood in the streets.
Maybe someday, they’ll stop blaming the guns–and yeah, even social media–and recognize there’s something far deeper at play here.