Are Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and other social platforms to blame for the rise in mass shootings?


The digital landscape in 2007 clearly changed since Columbine in 1999, and the coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting, both traditional and social, clearly highlights this difference. In 2007, Pew Research reported that the Virginia Tech shooting was the single most covered story in the news that year. In the five days following the Virginia Tech shooting, records show that more than half of all news coverage was devoted to updates on the incident (“Biggest Story by Week,” 2007).

Along with traditional television and radio broadcasts, Facebook and Twitter appeared to be the primary social media platforms used to spread news about the shooting. Immediately after the attack, Facebook was used by students on digital and mobile devices to notify others that they were safe and alive. This is something that Columbine students were not able to do due to the limitations of the technology at the time. The platform was also used by the public to create certain support groups, such as “Christians Praying for Virginia Tech” and “Canada Supports Virginia Tech” (Pelofsky, 2007).