Click reward: Social media makes it easier for terrorists to achieve notoriety

Click reward: Social media makes it easier for terrorists to achieve notoriety

7SOCIAL BUZZ

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Residents hug each other after paying their respects by placing flowers for the victims of the mosques attacks in Christchurch at the Masjid Umar mosque in Auckland on March 17, 2019. Source: MICHAEL BRADLEY / AFP

THE SHOCKING mass-shooting in Christchurch on Friday is notable for using livestreaming video technology to broadcast horrific first-person footage of the shooting on social media.

In the highly disturbing video, the gunman drives to the Masjid Al Noor mosque, walks inside and shoots multiple people before leaving the scene in his car.

The use of social media technology and livestreaming marks the attack as different from many other terrorist incidents. It is a form of violent “performance crime”. That is, the video streaming is a central component of the violence itself, it’s not somehow incidental to the crime, or a disgusting trophy for the perpetrator to re-watch later.

In the past, terrorism functioned according to what has been called the “theatre of terror”, which required the media to report on the spectacle of violence created by the group. Nowadays, it’s much easier for someone to both create the spectacle of horrific violence and distribute it widely by themselves.

In an era of social media, which is driven in large part by spectacle


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