Street Violence – Online Media

Violence can often be fuelled or expanded by nasty comments, videos or images online. This ‘cyber hate’ is typically used to discriminate, threat, and warn victims. Sites such as Facebook and YouTube have been known to propel violent behaviour.

Facebook, for example, has been proven as a powerful tool with relation to violent intimidation. In some cases it is used to organise a meeting time and place for violent behaviour. When this information is posted on networking sites such as Facebook, it is then able to be dispersed online within the public sphere. Subsequently, this causes more people to be involved in acts of violence.

In August 2010, an article posted by The Economist outlined an issue where  two teenagers were gunned down while riding a motorcycle in Columbia. Their names had appeared on a “hit list” which was posted on Facebook that included death threats and menacing messages. The victims were warned and told they  had three days to depart or else they would be in danger of these violent acts once again.

Online video streaming has become an explosive medium, and YouTube has presented a dominance in this area. Whilst it may be used for research and entertainment it has also been treated as as a medium for expression or documentation regarding violent behaviour. In 2006, the issue became so extensive that politicians in the U.K. sought to legislate against violence on YouTube, with U.K. ministers claiming that the videos “fuel random acts of violence.”

An example would be an incident which occurred  in April 2008 where six teenage girls in Florida beat up their peer whilst recording the attack with the intention of posting it on YouTube. Some news media responses blamed the incident on YouTube itself, however arguments were made that YouTube merely reflected violence. In this instance YouTube was used as a catalyst to the violence as the camera’s presence during the assault was purely for the footage to be uploaded for ‘popularity’. Online reactions included  YouTube videos uploaded by users commenting on the story, an example of citizen journalism. Other users posted amateur re-inactments of the video in an attempt for humorous exposure. Traditional news media such as newspapers and TV shows covered the story, most with a biased perspective using language such as “animalistic behaviour”.

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