Rape in the Age of Social Media

By Deane Barker on December 20, 2012

Rape Case Unfolds on Web and Splits City: Here’s an interesting story about a crime that took place in Ohio, and has played out like a long, slow drama in social media:

It is a sexual assault accusation in the age of social media, when teenagers are capturing much of their lives on their camera phones — even repugnant, possibly criminal behavior, as they did in Steubenville in August — and then posting it on the Web, like a graphic, public diary.

It’s eerie how the crime happened, and may have gone unreported, but started to spread through social media the next day and more and more images, videos, and written evidence began to turn up on various sites around the Net.

When she awoke, she was unaware of what had happened to her, she has told her parents and the police. But by then, the story of her night was already unfolding on the Internet, on Twitter and via text messages. Compromising and explicit photographs of her were posted and shared.

Within a day, a family member in town shared with the girl’s parents more disturbing visuals: a photograph posted on Instagram of their daughter who looked passed out at a party and a YouTube video of a former Steubenville baseball player talking about a rape.