The Facebook Killer is dead. Steve Stephens killed himself when police authorities cornered him while onboard his 2016 Ford Fusion. With his suicide, the crime that shook Cleveland and the rest of the United States comes to a close. However, it is far from over. The heinous crime put the spotlight on a couple of things - the role of social media in such crimes and the weaponization of social media, as well.
It all started last Sunday when Stephens posted a video on Facebook showing himself talking about his intent to murder someone. A couple of minutes later, Stephens posted a video of him shooting 74-year old Robert Godwin, Sr. to death. Stephens later recorded a 5-minute Facebook Live video confessing to the murder. According to the New York Post, it took a couple of hours before someone reported the videos to Facebook. The popular social network then took another 23 minutes before finally taking the videos and Stephen's account down. Stephens shot himself after he was spotted at a McDonald's drive-thru in Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately for Mark Zuckerberg, the crime put Facebook in a bad light once again. It has previously been blamed for the proliferation of fake news especially during the U.S. presidential elections. Like Google, Facebook has since made some moves to keep fake news at bay. It has also been the venue of other crimes such as rape, beatings, as well as suicides.
As BBC detailed, the young CEO, speaking at the F8 developer's conference, paid his respects to Godwin's family and promised to look into the company's failure to act swiftly and accordingly. Zuckerberg also indicates that the company is well aware of this issue and has been working to prevent them for quite some time now.
An offshoot of this crime is the backlash against Joy Lane, the woman Stephens described as "the love of my life". Lane is now the subject of cyber bullying and has even received death threats from people who believe she is partly to blame for what happened. Lane was forced to issue a public apology as a result of the cyberbullying and the ostracism she received. Social media can be used as a weapon. This has been seen countless of times, especially with suicide cases. Many victims were targeted and bullied on Facebook and other social networks as well as in real life causing the victims to take their own lives.
Toxic masculinity, the social stigma connected to man's reluctance to get help for mental health issues, is another aspect of this crime that needs to be talked about. Any expert would agree that Stephens suffered from some sort of mental illness. His personal issues failed relationship and a possible underlying mental issue was enough to drive him to kill, broadcast his crime and blame his ex in the process, and to finally commit suicide.