Can social media increase some crime trends?

You may have heard about the recent case how Thai man kills baby on Facebook Live, see e. g.  and also about other similar case. Without going into some big theories, do you think such case might have some impact on the thinking of the others who may plan something similar or this is probably an insignificant factor, and why? Read few comments.

Christopher Ferguson, Professor of Psychology, Stetson University

Well, there are really two things that we need to distinguish.  First is the question of whether things like Facebook are going to cause murders…that is to say, are there some individuals who would not have committed a murder normally, but now will do so because they can become “famous” on FB.  The answer is “probably not”…there’s no evidence that such factors play a causal role in the onset of violent crimes.  In most cases, people seem to make a decision to commit a violent act THEN decide they might also like publicity for it.  There are some efforts out there to change how news media covers such cases and I think those efforts are in good faith…but I don’t see evidence that they’ll actually prevent any crimes.

The second is whether some folks might change their plans for a crime *they already want to commit* in order to attain attention to it.  That’s perhaps a bit more likely.  So, I think we’ll see at least some more people using social media to “promote” their crimes, one way or another.  But I don’t think that will result in increasingly crime trends overall.

So I don’t think we need to worry about social media causing crime, but some criminals may use social media as a tool once they have already decided to commit a crime.


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