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Cleveland's Facebook Shooting Is Among a Growing Number of Crimes Posted on Social Media

University of Central Florida
Raymond Surrette of the University of Central Florida says posting crime on social media is grownig

Police say Steve Stephens killed himself late this morning after a brief police chase near Erie, Pa. He had eluded capture since Sunday when he allegedly fatally shot 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. and posted it on Facebook.

Raymond Surette is a criminal justice professor at the University of Central Florida who specializes in what’s called “performance crime.” He says it’s growing because social media makes it so easy to send a statement to a small, targeted audience.  

“You know, the local football team, the rest of the gang and that sort of thing, and (they) don’t sort of conscientiously think through that -- even though the target audience many be 10 of their buddies -- the potential virtual audience can be in the hundreds of millions.”

The Stephens case drew media attention from around the world. Surette says outlets like Facebook are not to blame for postings like Stephens because it is impossible to police the vast quantity of uploads. But he says they are responsible for taking them down as soon as possible, which he says Facebook did in this case. Stephens’ posts were up for a little over two hours, and Facebook says it shut down the account about 20 minutes after it was notified.