Social Media: What Role Does It Play in Crimes?


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Most of us use social media on a daily basis, but how many of us realize the role it plays when it comes to holding people accountable?

Just yesterday, Missouri State University Quarterback Breck Ruddick was charged with animal abuse– weeks after a social media post regarding the allegations went viral.  It accused Ruddick of breaking a dog’s jaw.

Ruddick’s case is just one of many examples of how social media draws attention to issues facing communities across the nation.

“What social media has done, is exacerbated shiny diamond syndrome,” said Drury Communications Department Chair Jonathan Groves.  “We pay attention to what has the most heat.”

From officer involved shootings to riots to assaults– videos, pictures and posts have been drawing attention to modern day crimes unlike ever before.

“We are paying attention to what moves us and touches us,” said Groves.  “Because of social media.”

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram– the list goes on.  The social media tools highlight instances like Ferguson, the officer-involved shooting in Minnesota where the victim’s wife used Facebook Live, and now– the Breck Ruddick allegations.

“If there’s enough noise, chatter and shares– that’s what we are paying attention to,” said Groves.  “And we gage importance by what they’re sharing and liking– even though it may not be the most important topic.”

While these kinds of topics have been gaining attention throughout history– the speed at which they’re prosecuted could be thanks to the virtual world.

“People getting fired up and enough voices being heard — even in the days before social media– that’s what got actions,” said Groves.  “That’s when things happen.”

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