Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Is Media to Blame for Tragedy?

I decided to choose to read the article "Should Reddit Be Blamed for the Spreading of a Smear?", and I'm so glad that I did. I remember the day that the Boston Shooting happened and remember feeling so much heartache and pain for complete strangers.  I remember feeling angry and hopeless for our country, wondering how a person had it in them to do such a terrible and inhumane act.  As if having so many innocent people killed and injured was not bad enough, an innocent person was blamed ending in a tragic and unfortunate death.

I don't necessarily believe that Reddit or any other technology is to blame, I believe that it is the user.  If that one person did not post the side-by-side picture of Sunhil Tripathi with the real suspect, then maybe Sunhil would have been found and still be alive.  So many people are quick to judge the source of media, but don't really step back to think that the user is to blame, not the site itself.

There are so many misconceptions and confusion that lead to the events after Sunhil's suspicion, all, in my opinion, leading back to the news reporters, gossip columns and every day users of media.  In a matter of 24 hours, Sunhil went from a boy missing from his home to a boy who was accused of terrorism.  And it is so easy to believe everything that pops up on social media; it is easy to believe legitimate sources such as our national and local news stations.   When a popular source, like Perez Hilton, tweets "news" everyone automatically believes it until it is actually proven. I will be the first one to admit that I am 100% guilty of this, by why? 

The one thing that blows my mind is that the media did not own up to their mistakes.  After Sunhil's body was found and his innocence was finally proven, the same reporters that had spread Sunhil's mistaken suspicion casually spoke about his innocence. 

I am not against media in any way, but when situations are blown out of proportion and false accusations are spread that essentially ruins a person's life, that's when an issue occurs.  It is so easy for rumors to be spread, and all it takes is a simply click of a button.


  1. I couldn't agree more that it's up to the user. I mentioned that on Scott's blog too. The media has an unbelievable amount of power, but it's up to the user to decide how to handle that kind of power. It's unfair to blame a specific source of social media for the particular crime, but without that media, would there even be the issue in the first place? It's an unending cycle of questioning. I believe it's subjective to the person using the media and questioning its purpose.

  2. I couldn't agree with you more Megan. I don't necessarily think we should blame social media or certain outlets for the misinformation and the tragedies that can occur because of them. I think that more than anything, it depends who the user is as you said. I think that if someone with enough followers or subscribers, or a "respected" celebrity or media guru says something that is incorrect news, it can quickly spread. A lesser example of this is the recent "twerking" stunt that Jimmy Kimmel pulled. He put up a video of a girl doing the popular dance that ended up starting herself on fire, and TONS of news stations and talk shows covered it on their shows. Jimmy Kimmel had the whole thing planned to see how far it could spread and it DID. It is proof that although these things help information, correct or incorrect, spreads things, they aren't writing the words. The users are the ones creating the messages, and therefore, I place the blame on that more than I do on the actual media site.

  3. I agree that the blame should be put on the user of the sites rather than the sites themselves. It's the same issue with the controversy over regulated gun laws: Guns don't kill people, people kill people. But that's a whole different topic that I won't delve into. Sites can get bad reputations over such acts. At the same time, what percentage of people are actually using sites in such demeaning or harmful ways? Majority probably use it responsibly like how it's supposed to be used. The fault is completely on the ones that use it negatively.

  4. I also agree, the individual user is to blame, not the social media platform. We as users need to recognized that these networking sites can be useful, but they are not always true, and it's up to us to verify the information. Im sure that most of us have used Wikipedia for everyday refernces but we understand the difference between this site, and an actual encylopedia. Because we understand that other internet users like ourselves create the wiki pages, we know the information on the site isn't necesarilly factual. I think it is important to question everything you read on social media, espcially if you are concidering passing on the information. This is such a sad example, and I could not imagine the pain that those online spectulations caused the Tripathi family.

  5. A absolutely agree that we can't place blame on social networks as much as the blame should be placed on the user. We ultimately need to take responsibility for what we say. And at times like this a user may have been making that parallel to Suspect Number 2 thinking it was funny or Ironic but it ended up having horrible effects. I really was thankful for social media when the Boston Bombing occurred. My best friend lives in Cambridge and was volunteering at the Marathon. The chase for the real Suspects was occurring right out side of his home and I was glues to the media to make sure that nothing went South and my friend would be okay. In that way, media was doing a positive thing for me, in a negative situation.