In the late nineties Friends Reunited got a reputation for being a marriage wrecker. A huge number of members, used the service to get in touch with old boyfriends or girlfriends, many leading to affairs and often divorce. The current trend for social networking sites like Facebook however is far worse, increasingly being linked with crimes like murder.
Earlier this week I commented on the BBC’s website article, 34 year Wayne Forrester from Croydon was jailed for life after he brutally murdered his wife on 18 February. What had Emma Forrester done to deserve this horrific death?… she had changed her relationship status on facebook from married to single, following their break up.
At the time I said ‘well it had to happen sooner or later, the first facebook murder’, it would seem I was wrong, this was not the first facebook murder, just the latest.
There are examples all over the world, where social networking sites have been involved to some degree in murders or iolent crime: Sarah Elston, 22, a talented young Brisbane artist in austalia in June 2008, was murdered after arranging to meet a former boyfriend on facebook. Martine Vik Magnussen’s, the Norwegian socialite’s body was found buried under rubble in a London appartment. Tracey Grinhaff’s body was found in a shed in the back garden of the family home she shared with her husband, Gary, and their two young daughters, aged 14 and four. Gary Grinhaff apparently murdered his wife,42, before killing himself, the reason? she had updated her profile on the social networking site, Facebook, telling friends she was “currently splitting” from her husband
But murder is not the only concerning when it comes to the internet, there are a number of links between websites, blogs, and social networks and suicides, in fact if you search google on ‘myspace suicides’ you’ll get over 7 million results from all over the world.
There are of course other issues of Social Networking on murder investigation, in many counties it is illegal to name murder suspects below a certain age, this was relatively simple when it came to the press, they knew the law and stuck to it, but bloggers aren’t so easily dealt with. The authorities in Toronto, Ontario had to work together with facebook to remove numerous references to murder suspects posted after the death of 14-year-old Stefanie Rengel, earlier this year.
I don’t think necessarily that Facebook directly lead to these murders, or that they would not have occurred if Facebook was not around, but perhaps that Social Networking was an accelerant. Social networks, make our private lives far more public, than they would normally be and allow us to see what is happening around us much faster than word of mouth, (although my Auntie Wendy, who doesn’t have a computer seems to gives it a good run for its money). People are often quite paranoid after a break up, and the transparency of Social Networks can allow this to get way out of hand.