Social Media Plays a Role in the Finding and Hiding of Killers

Chiara Douglas, Reporter

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In 2010, Luka Magnotta, the main suspect in the documentary “Don’t F**K With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer,” showcased his psychological tendencies through internet posts on YouTube. These videos consisted of severe animal cruelty and foreshadowed the murder and dismembering of Jun Lin in 2012. Magnotta’s actions throughout the film raise the question… Do social media platforms catch killers?

Deanna Thompson, a data analyst for a casino in Las Vegas, teamed up with a Los Angeles resident, using the alias John Green, through a group on FaceBook. These two “internet nerds” worked together for two years to unearth Magnotta’s identity after his first animal abuse video went viral. Throughout the discovery of Magnotta, the FaceBook group allowed people across the globe to contact each other and find new information. 

Members of the FaceBook group felt unsafe, and the ability to pose a fake persona established their sense of stability. In this case, Deanna Thompson used the name “Baudi Moovan,” and John Green used “Green,” as a cover. This is a great addition to many social media platforms security-wise, but it can also interfere with many findings, like police investigations. Luka Magnotta was able to hide his true identity through fake internet names, accounts, and self-directed comments. This prolonged the investigation and allowed further acts of abuse and murder.

In a more sophisticated aspect, the posting of pictures provides the ability to track an individual’s location. Not only do some social media apps place “location finders” on your phones, but the background of a picture can tell a lot. Thompson and Green looked through Magnotta’s most recent pictures and used platforms like Google Earth to locate him. The ability to locate individuals through social media has been seen throughout many situations, especially when dealing with the police. In a more personal realm, the West Springfield Police Department has recently enabled a GPS system, called Rapid SOS. This technology assists their current 911 system, by allowing the device to connect to your built-in GPS system (on all Google and Apple products), which is initiated when 911 is called. This system demonstrates the connection each social media platform holds, and how it helps in locating missing or run-away individuals. 

Not only is the premise of social media exemplified in the Luka Magnotta case, but it is also showcased through various criminal acts throughout the world. Chats are opened on the dark web between several individuals grouped into separate criminal-characteristic categories. These chat rooms allow suspects to discuss the content of their offenses, plan their upcoming crimes, and broadcast them to their audience. Some of these entities are very dangerous to scavenge, so many people don’t investigate the crimes committed until they surface publicly… if they ever do.

Although social media can support the activity pursued in personal investigations, it can also provide negative side effects. Not only can suspects exploit their victims and their actions against them, but there is also the chance that they will never get caught. Through the manipulation of social media, individuals who pursue criminal action will have an indefinite chance of getting caught, depending on their knowledge and need for attention.