With the rise of social media platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok, there has been a market for content about criminal cases. Many include unsolved murders or disappearances that first go over the details of the case but then take a questionable turn of speculating who the perpetrator is. One of these high-profile cases that were most recently covered was the murders of four Idaho college students. From the beginning of the case, many content creators began providing unconfirmed reports about the case and started accusing people of committing the murders. They began pointing fingers at neighbors, roommates, and even people who had just been around the victims that night. Some of the accused people faced negative backlash on their social media accounts with content consumers labeling them as the murderer and temporarily derailing their lives until the next suspect was accused.
This, however, brings into question whether this practice is ethical. As content creators, there is no standard for responsible journalism. Many of these content creators have little to no investigation background and are amateur informants to their followers. Additionally, social media platforms do not always fact-check the content that is posted to the community. Is it ethical for content creators to publicly accuse people of crimes if they believe they have information to support their claims? Can social media platforms continue to support content creators that have wrongfully accused people of crimes in the past? These accusations, though only in a virtual community, can and do have real repercussions for the “suspects.” People can lose their jobs, face scrutiny from their families, or even experience death threats. There is a big responsibility that should be considered when putting these people at risk of these things or possibly comprising police investigations for the sake of having something to post.