Social media has moved the goalposts

MAN’S capacity for savagery, man’s capacity for unimaginable cruelty, man’s appetite for revenge may seem inventions of our time, but they are as old as man himself.

It is probable these impulses helped us climb the evolutionary tree. The opportunity for those who would give vent to these appalling characteristics to use social media to achieve their objectives is, however, an invention of our time. This was graphically seen this week in the Sonia Blount murder trial after which the grotesque and violent Eric Locke was found guilty of her murder and sent to jail for life.

Locke had invented a Facebook profile to lure the 31-year-old mother-of-one to a Dublin hotel after she cut off contact with him. She was “in fear of him” because of his reaction to the breakdown of their short relationship.

Not only does this case underline today’s everyday vulnerabilities and the uncertainty around assertions made on social media, it also bookends a bad week for Facebook, an organisation facing severe criticism for its refusal to remove extreme, offensive material from its site.

But what could have Facebook done in this case? Locke hid behind an invented person to kill Blount but as Facebook has nearly 2bn users, detecting this deception would have been impossible. As Blunt’s family warned, we must all be responsible and very careful about what we say or belive on social media. The goalposts have indeed been moved.


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