The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Editorial – Social media drives digital age shooting

Nissy Botembe/The Collegian
Nissy Botembe/The Collegian

In the digital age, everyone is trying to be a celebrity. Go on YouTube and you’ll see tons and tons of videos with less than ten views from everyday people who hope to gain a following. Influencer is one of the hottest job titles on the market, and social media has started to become almost weaponized in its use of targeting to reach the highest level of attention.

On March 15, a man in New Zealand orchestrated an attack on two mosques and did so with attention to detail and livestreamed the attacks and shared it via different forms of social media for the world to get a front-row seat at his disgusting act of violence.

With the death toll reaching around 49 people, this isn’t only one of the highest mass casualty shootings in recent times but also one of most sickening due to the way it was shared.

The shooter wanted to share their attack online as many times as they could in order to go viral.

Many others post videos in the hopes of it going viral, albeit with far less nefarious acts.

The livestream of the shooting was linked in posts on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and message board 8chan, which also linked to the shooter’s 73-page long manifesto.

During the livestream itself, the shooter said the words “Remember lads, subscribe to Pewdiepie.”

This quote is a reference to the YouTube name for Felix Kjellberg, who currently holds the highest number of subscribers on YouTube. This statement was made to create buzz and call attention to the act of violence itself.

It’s almost as if the shooter was using an active form of live SEO, or search engine optimization, an important part of digital marketing and the backbone for how to reach the highest amount of views and clicks.

The shooter’s manifesto, which was shared with the livestream, made a point to reference odd buzz words as well, including “Candace Owens,” “Spyro the Dragon,” and “Fortnite.”

The choice of those words only makes the shooting all that more disgusting, due mostly in part to the sinister use of these everyday words.

They’re unrelated to the shooting, however using them in the manifesto ensures the story gains more traction and guarantees news sites give as much time to the event itself as possible.

With a growing level of social media and people becoming able to share almost every second of their life with the world, the fear is more people will try anything to get recognized.

This shooting, while being created with hate in mind, also wanted to create a high level of shock value in order to get attention.

There is nothing stopping literally anyone from abusing social media in a similar way to get the results they want from the world.

While most people seek acceptance and a sense of belonging with social media, it seems clear that there are those who look to use the different avenues in order to create chaos.

Horrifying as it may be, this isn’t the first time social media has been used to spread violence online.

However, it is the most detail-oriented and orchestrated attempt.

When given a platform, people are given free reign to do whatever they would like. This goes for not only individual users on social media but news outlets themselves.

If the shooter was able to essentially control the story by planning everything in detail, then the responsibility of spreading awareness will be held in the hands of everyone else.

Guns have killed many people and that argument has been made time and time again.

However, the damage society does by sharing things like the shooter’s video or manifesto could lead to copycat terrorists or even worse, someone hoping to top the New Zealand shooter’s damage.

People should be aware that spreading the message of someone like the shooter can do more than inform, it can create future problems for everyone.

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