Social Media and the Orlando Nightclub Massacre

On June 12 Omar Mateen entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida to begin a shooting spree that would claim the lives of 49 people and injure another 53. Given the sheer number of victims, many news outlets including The New York Times are hailing the tragedy the worse mass shooting in US history.

In an effort to understand Mateen’s motives and actions, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has requested that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg release details about Mateen’s social media posts before and during the Orlando attack.

Mateen’s use of social media to propel his deadly agenda does not just concern government officials. Discussions are also being sparked among forensic psychologists over the increasing concern with social media’s ability to arouse fame and copycat behavior.

Just two days after the Orlando massacre a French man killed a couple in their home and afterward posted a video of himself on Facebook pledging allegiance to the terrorist group ISIS.

In a recent article published by the nonprofit news organization Mother Jones, forensic psychologist Reid Meloy reacted to the incident saying, “This is so much what we thought would happen, this increasing use of social media. I think we’re going to see more of this movement toward real-time broadcasting of these events, or individuals looking for the level of coverage of events in real time…fulfilling their desire to be seen and gain notoriety.“

Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Johnson continues to view social media records as an important tool in the prevention of future attacks.

Zuckerberg has until June 29 to comply with Johnson’s request for information regarding all five of Mateen’s Facebook accounts.


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