Is there such a thing as a Facebook murder? Is it different than any other murder? Legally, it can be. From a common sense point of view, there is no 'hate crime' status that should make a murder worse if a white person kills a latino person or a Catholic instead of a white person or a Protestant, but legally such crimes can be considered more heinous and get a special label of hate crime.
But social media is ubiquitous and criminal justice academics are always on the prowl for new categories to create and write about so a 'Facebook Murder', representing crimes that may somehow involve social networking sites and thus be a distinct category for sentencing, has been postulated.
Common sense should prevail, says Dr. Elizabeth Yardley, co-author of a paper on the subject in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice. Yes, perpetrators had used social networking sites in the homicides they had committed but the cases in which those were 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 a broad label like 'Facebook Murder'.
"Victims knew their killers in most cases, and the crimes echoed what we already know about this type of crime," said Yardley. "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."
So banning guns or Facebook would not prevent murders any more than banning spoons would prevent people from getting fat. The justice system will be happy not to have another set of arcane guidelines to follow.