Today, the UK press is full of headlines about Peter Chapman, the rapist and murderer sentenced yesterday to 35 years in jail. He has been labelled the ‘Facebook Murderer’ – and that really irritates me.
He connected with unsuspecting young women through Facebook, wooing them and trying to lure them into face to face meetings with him. But he also used email and text messages to do the same thing.
The victim he has been jailed for killing was 17 year old Ashleigh Hall. She thought he was a teenager, and on the fateful night of her murder, she believed she was receiving text messages from a teenage friend who told her ‘his father’ was coming to pick her up. That ‘father’ was Chapman himself.
So, why have the press not labelled him the SMS killer?
Then, on the train home, I was flipping through The Evening Standard and saw a story about Paul Bristol, a 24 year old who had been in the Caribbean when his London-based girlfriend announced she was dumping him – by way of Facebook. He flew back to London and stabbed her 20 times until she died. The headline of his story also shouted “Facebook” and “killer” in the same bold type. Do the journalists and headline writers really think Facebook is the problem here?
The media has real issues with social media. Is this victimisation of Facebook because the media has seem deep seated antagonism towards social media and blogging and all things digital that are undermining and destroying their industry? Or is it just lazy journalism and sensationalistic reporting?
Either way, it winds me up. Big time.