Social Media & Tragedy: Informing and Unraveling the Eyewitness Perspective

Sharing is caring!

In the wake of the tragic shootings in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater early Friday mornings, news is pouring in about the sad event – and much of it is coming not from traditional media, but from the witnesses, family, and friends who are closest to the tragedy.

Twitter pages, YouTube videos taken on cellphones by witnesses, and Facebook profiles have all highlighted the chaos and shock left in the wake of the attack. These quickly dispersed forms of information have in many cases bested major media outlets in getting news about the shooting out to people the world over. One such video, taken outside the theater immediately after the shooting, has been a fixture on every major media outlet. Though not exceptionally detailed or high quality in its production value, the video offers a glimpse into just how scary and confusing the ordeal was for those involved.

Even in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy – in fact in all likelihood, while the shooting was still going on – social media was beginning to tell the tale of what was happening inside the theatre. Twitter user Djayla posted before the movie began:


Djayla later Tweeted, after the attack:


And as had been seen in many more recent events in history, bystanders and witnesses used social media platforms to become, in essence, breaking news reporters. YouTube user ReignofCrimson uploaded a video taken directly outside the theater building, in effect doing one of the very first “broadcasts” from the site – and from a witness’ perspective. Whereas traditional news typically informs the public, many first-person social media reports may also serve to help law enforcement and investigators to better piece together a timeline of the events that have unfolded. The hope is that these posts end up effecting a more just outcome when all is said and done.

From the Nao Family to the families of all the victims and their loved ones, our deepest condolences and prayers go out to you.

About the Author