The Power of Online Attention: 12 Real Crimes That Went Viral

The Power of Online Attention: 12 Real Crimes That Went Viral

When you shouldn't be in the spotlight
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Infamous was about a couple who posted their robbery crime spree and went viral. How realistic is this? Here is a list of 10 real crimes that went viral … so as it turned out, Infamous was very realistic!

One of the most troubling aspects of viral crime stories is the way in which they can impact the victims of the crime.

  • In many cases, victims of viral crimes are forced to relive their trauma over and over again as the story is shared and discussed online.
  • This can lead to victims feeling that they are somehow responsible for the attention that their story has garnered.
  • In some cases, victims have even been subjected to harassment or threats online, further compounding the trauma that they have suffered.
From Gabby Petition to lemme take a selfie, these 12 real crimes captured the attention of the world and went viral.
MidJourney prompt: ten newspapers stacked on top of each other, commercial photograph, on black isolated plain, hyper realistic, stock photo, –ar 4:5 –v 5 –s 250 … definitely not 10 newspapers!

Book Look

Speaking of viral crimes, here’s a fictional account of being on the infamous end: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (affiliate link).

1. Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie

This #vanlife case was so tragic. Gabby Petito was an Instagram star, along with her fiance Brian Laundrie. Well, he came back, and she did not. There was a huge manhunt for her, then there was a huge manhunt for him. It made international headlines, with social media helping bring a close to the case.

2. Infamous for Real

Dupree Johnson was charged with 142 felony counts of possession of a weapon or ammo after a sheriff in Palm Beach County, FL saw  Johnson’s Instagram page, which included a photo of him holding a gun. Since he was previously convicted of a felony, he could not have a gun. When they executed the search warrant on his apartment, the police discovered about $250,000 worth of stolen jewelry, electronics and firearms.

3. Flying Kittens

18-year-old Garrett Haile was arrested and booked on a felony count animal cruelty. A second boy, a minor, was also arrested. In the video, Haile says “Welcome to badass, and this is Felipe the flying cat.” He then took a cat by the scruff of the neck and threw him in the lake.

4. Lemme Take A Selfie

Maxwell Marion Morton got 15 months in prison for shooting his best friend Ryan Mangan in the face. He then took a selfie with the dead body and posted it on Snapchat. The photo was supposed to “self-destruct” a few seconds after viewing it, but people saved it. He allegedly wrote “Told you I cleaned up the shells. Ryan was not the last one.”

5. Child Porn Goes Viral

44-year-old Germaine Moore turned himself in after a viral video, shared over Facebook to catch the rapist, surfaced. This video was what appeared to be child pornography of a underage girl with an adult man. He admitted to raping his three nieces, all underage. Jerrell Washington, a 42-year-old man from Montgomery, Alabama, was also charged in connection to distributing this video.

[N.B. I realize that sharing child pornography is a crime, but not sharing it meant that that child rapist would not have turned himself in.]

6. Facebook Beating

Malik Jones and two of his friends played a game called “Pick ‘em out, knock ‘em out.” The three recorded themselves beating Delfino Mora to death. Mora was 62-year-old disabled man, scavenging for cans in an alley in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. The teens shared the video online and were subsequently arrested.

7. Gang Rape Live

A poor 15-year-old girl was gang raped on Facebook Live, with 40 people watching. One of those who watched sent some still screenshots to the girl’s mother, who reported that her daughter was missing for over two days. Two of the young men have been arrested. However, this begs a larger question: what were those other 39 people doing? She was lured by him to a home on the city’s West Side, Chicago, where she was not allowed to leave.

8. Parking Spots

On April 9, 2017, Shadivia Keauslatyke Phillips, 21, and an unidentified 31-year-old woman got into a fight over a parking space in Detroit, Michigan. The verbal argument over the spot ended with Phillips stabbing the other woman. Police charged her with assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and felonious assault after the video went viral. The video was recorded by a bystander. UPDATE: Was Shadivia Phillips found guilty? I did some investigative reporting!

9. Viral Crash

On July 17, 2010, Dayna Kempson Schacht of Griffin, Georgia, was in a fatal car crash. Firefighter Terrence Reid took a video and shared it. The video went viral after Reid shared it with some firefighters, and they shared it with others. The video was eventually shared with the Schacht’s parents.

10. Ice Bucket Challenge … Accepted

Jesean Morris was a wanted for an outstanding warrant on a parole violation on a felony conviction. He had a bench warrant for absconding, since a defendant on parole must keep the parole officer informed of his or her whereabouts at all times. Morris then posted a video of himself taking the ice bucket challenge, which led police to arrest him.

11. Beating A Disabled Man

Jordan Hill, Brittany Covington, Tanishia Covington, and Tesfaye Cooper were charged with two counts of committing a hate crime when they assaulted a disabled man suffering from schizophrenic and attention-deficit disorder. They took a video of the beating, posting it on social media. The video was viewed millions of times.

12. Flying Kittens … Again

And just for laughs, here is a lawyer who attended a hearing as a cartoon kitten. Judge Roy Ferguson tweeted the footage (despite the warning that recording it would be a fine). Does that mean the judge should be turned into the Bar Association?

The Role of Social Media in Spreading Viral Crime Stories

One of the key factors that has contributed to the rise of viral crime stories is the role of social media in spreading information. Platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have millions of users worldwide, making it easy for stories to be shared widely and quickly.

Social media plays a key role in shaping public perceptions of a crime or criminal. This can be both a blessing and a curse, as it can help to raise awareness of important issues, but can also lead to sensationalism, misinformation, and swaying opinion not based on the facts and truths.

My Opinion

Don’t be an idiot.

P.S. We thought the movie Infamous sucked. So did most other people. IMDB gave it like a 2 star rating.


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