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Social media can be amplifier, facilitator of violence, researcher says

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A fatal shooting was captured on Facebook Live as a war of online words spilled out into the streets.

Terrell Smith was shot and killed on June 28 in Ypsilanti Township. A fifth and final suspect, 19-year-old Coreyon Brown, was arrested by federal agents on Monday. Brown is believed to have been the shooter.

University of Pennsylvania professor Dr. Desmond Patton has studied the connection between social media and violence for 10 years. He says there has been an increase in violent events tied to online interactions. And while we don’t have causal evidence, he says he has more than a decade of observational evidence in his research.

“I definitely think that we should be paying attention to social media as a potential amplifier and a facilitator of violence.”

Patton says understanding community violence in today’s world must include social media. However, this also raises additional concerns about online surveillance.

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Josh Hakala is the general assignment reporter for the WEMU news department.
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