This archive revealed that the number of shootings did in fact increase over time, especially after 2011 (Figure 1). From 2011 to 2018, the numbers noticeably increase and become more consistent. During this time, social media use also became prevalent in society. As Lang (2015) explained, during the year of 2011 Twitter doubled its users, Facebook exceeded 750 million users, and Instagram celebrated its one-year anniversary.
As seen in Figure 1, the average number of annual mass shootings from 2004-2010 was 2.5, compared to 7.5 from 2011-2018. The evidence shows that mass shootings did in fact triple after 2011, suggesting a possible relationship between the spread of mass shooting news on social media platforms and the increase in these crimes.
Through analysis of media coverage, both traditional and social, of the shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Parkland, one can conclude that the media era in which a shooting took place had an enormous effect on how shootings were covered in the news. This study suggests that there is a pattern between the spread of mass shooting news on social media platforms and the increase in these crimes. Over time, as social media has increased in usage, so has the coverage of news concerning mass shootings. This also further reflects shooters’ desire for fame and their tendency to copy a crime.