Snapped: Snapchat and the Stoneman Douglas Shooting

It’s never an easy task to talk about the loss of lives, especially those of children. The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting has been considered one of the deadliest school shootings in US history, ranking among more “iconic” tragedies such as Columbine in 1999, the Virginia Tech shooting and Sandy Hook in 2012. In total, shooter Nikolas Cruz fatally wounded 17 teachers and students and injured 14 others. The horrifying attack lasted only six minutes, after which Cruz escaped the school, blending in with the mass exodus of students.

Unsurprisingly, social media was able to give the world the horrific and unfortunate insights into the shooting which took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Floriada.. The platforms on the frontline were Snapchat and Twitter. In particular, Snapchat’s most recent desktop feature “Snap Maps”. Snap Maps allows users to pinpoint where trending stories are occurring geographically and follow “highlights” that are curated by Snapchat staff. Several students were able to record videos from inside classrooms as the shooting was taking place. These videos were posted on Snapchat and subsequently collated for Snap Maps.

If you are like me, your immediate reaction might be disgust at the thought of social media corporations capitalising off tragic and disturbing events, such as Stoneman Douglas. However, I think it’s only fair in this day and age to cut social media some slack. The crux of the issue is not whether social media is perpetuating or diminishing the problem at hand, but rather what it offers users in terms of the broadcasting of information. Social media would never be able to solve the issues revolving around gun violence but it exposes us to more than traditional broadcasting channels would typically allow.

An unbiased, uncensored view of the world from the eyes of those involved (sadly, sometimes as victims) can prove to be indispensible in terms of changing the world for the greater good. Although not receiving even a batter of an eyelash from President Trump and his cronies, the result among the masses has been monumental. A call for the review and amendment of U.S. gun laws has erupted throughout the country, more specifically from students. And a month after the Stoneman Douglas shooting, on March 14th, school “walk outs” has took place nationwide. These protests were, needless to say, shared via social media.

In my honest opinion, social media itself is neither to the benefit or the disadvantage in tragic events. It is, nonetheless, changing how we access insight into these events, making information more readily available. With increased accessibility to information that is neither biased nor curated, better-informed judgements can be made as to how we react to current affairs.

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