In 2013 Derek Medina allegedly killed his wife and posted a photo of her corpse on Facebook. A year, before model Cynthia Osokogu was murdered in Nigeria, on a trip police said was organised by a man she met through Facebook.
Those crimes, and others like them, began to be known in the media and elsewhere as 'Facebook murders'. However according to a new paper 'Making Sense of ‘Facebook Murder’? Social Networking Sites and Contemporary Homicide' in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, the term is not a useful concept.
"The cases we identified were not collectively unique or unusual when compared with general trends and characteristics – certainly not to a degree that would necessitate the introduction of a new category of homicide or justify a broad label like ‘Facebook Murder’", the researchers write.
"Victims knew their killers in most cases, and the crimes echoed what we already know about this type of crime," said Dr. Elizabeth Yardley of Birmingham City University, co-author of the article.
"Social networking sites like Facebook have become part and parcel of our everyday lives and it's important to stress that there is nothing inherently bad about them. Facebook is no more to blame for these homicides than a knife is to blame for a stabbing--it's the intentions of the people using these tools that we need to focus upon."