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The Internet Is Now Part of the Crime Scene 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-back dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Over at Forbes, Kashmir Hill examines the disturbing Internet footprint of Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger. 'A decade ago,' observes TechCrunch's John Biggs in The Internet Is Now Part Of The Crime Scene, 'a crime scene was a photo and a report. Now it is a sea of interconnected tracings, the murderer bobbing loosely in social media and the forums. We can watch him make his way through these straits, we can watch the madness growing, and we can watch his terrible end, all through murk of media. We are quick to judge and we are quick to look at his wake and say, definitively, that he was this or he was that. He was frustrated. The frustration grew. He went to a place he thought would help. It didn't.'"
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The Internet Is Now Part of the Crime Scene

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 26, 2014 @10:55AM (#47092373)

    This is official police business. Ctrl-Z and wait to be questioned.

    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:54AM (#47092721)

      OT but a little funny: this reminds me of a time when I was a vax/vms guy and working with a hardcore unix (ultrix) guy. I was in good old EDT editor (remember that?) and asked the guy for some help on something. he came over to my terminal, hit ctl-z (thinking it would just put my current job in the bg) but, in fact, in EDT editor ctl-z SAVES THE FILE AND EXITS!

      oops. he felt embarassed, as well he should have. I was not an emacs guy at that point, yet...

      never walk up to someone's terminal and just hit ctl-z. never go full retard, either.

      • by cthulhu11 (842924)

        OT but a little funny: this reminds me of a time when I was a vax/vms guy and working with a hardcore unix (ultrix) guy.

        My first-blush thought here was that from what I remember of Ultrix it didn't really count as a hardcore Unix, but that would be snarky. Oh wait, this is /., nevermind;)

        I was in good old EDT editor (remember that?) and asked the guy for some help on something. he came over to my terminal, hit ctl-z (thinking it would just put my current job in the bg) but, in fact, in EDT editor ctl-z SAVES THE FILE AND EXITS!

        oops. he felt embarassed, as well he should have. I was not an emacs guy at that point, yet...

        never walk up to someone's terminal and just hit ctl-z. never go full retard, either.

        At one point I occasionally had to work on a PrimeOS system, where ^P was the friggin' interrupt character, even in their emacs (which I think was gosmacs). MAN how that plagued me.

    • 9 out of 10 times, ctrl-z usually results in a kill -9.

      • by fisted (2295862)
        Not sure if you're trying to be funny, but no. The only similarity to SIGKILL is that SIGSTOP isn't interceptible, either (then again, ^Z does not send a SIGSTOP in the first place)
  • by gl4ss (559668) on Monday May 26, 2014 @10:55AM (#47092377) Homepage Journal

    ..the places where he made the shootings and possibly where he prepared.

    the internet is not a "crime scene"(for this) any more than the postal system and newspaper opinion pieces were 30 years ago..

    • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:08AM (#47092447)
      Exactly. I don't see how this is any different than interviewing a person's neighbors, family, coworkers like they did 15 years ago (and still do now). Or reading the person's journal, or notes or manifesto they left behind. The only difference is that these were private, whereas now anyone can post whatever they like on the internet for people to see. But youtube or blogs are essentially nothing more than the 21st century version of the manifesto or suicide note.
      • by Reziac (43301) *

        Yep. The internet provides a magical bogeyman to blame, precisely because it can't be captured or contained, But the only real difference between 'net and old-style printed rants is the net's enhanced ability to cheaply disseminate 'em.

        If he were an old-style crazy, we'd have found journals scribbled in a crabbed hand, and clippings taped to the wall and slashed across the face.

    • Not so fast.... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by westlake (615356)

      the internet is not a "crime scene"(for this) any more than the postal system and newspaper opinion pieces were 30 years ago..

      A crime scene is a location where a crime took place or another location where evidence of the crime may be found.

      Crime scene [wikipedia.org]

      Rodger's e-mails and posts to the Internet would be admissible as evidence of premeditated murder.

      Once again, a self-made video, uploaded to the world via YouTube, is at the heart of a horrific news event.

      Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old man who authorities say killed six people in the Santa Barbara, Calif., area before fatally shooting himself late Friday, posted at least two self-pitying videos to the video-sharing site shortly before he went on his rampage.

      The videos --- in which Rodger calmly and chillingly discusses his sexual frustrations and intent to ''slaughter'' those he claims harmed him --- were removed by YouTube after viewers flagged them. But they were repeatedly re-posted on the site as copies spread across the Internet.

      Videos are routinely flagged by YouTube's users; the company reviews videos that have raised concerns and removes them if they violate its community guidelines. Among other things, the guidelines prohibit videos displaying ''predatory behavior, stalking, threats, harassment [and] intimidation ... and inciting others to commit violent acts. ... Anyone caught doing these things may be permanently banned from YouTube.''

      Law enforcement authorities in Santa Barbara said they are analyzing Rodger's videos, which he apparently has posted online since 2012.

      Elliot Rodger video removed by YouTube [washingtonpost.com]

      Finally, when exactly did the angry rants of a mass murderer become rightfully characterized as a manifesto? Although Rodger's document is a manifestation of emotional disturbance, it hardly qualifies to be called a manifesto. A true manifesto reflects the political ideology of a formidable leader of men, a political force to be reckoned with. Nowhere in his 141 pages does Rodger describe his manuscript in such a way.

      So why should we?

      Why mass killers need to explain their plan [usatoday.com]

      • 'Manifesto' ship sailed with the unibomber.

        If that psychotic rant was a manifesto then everything is.

        Manifesto is anything too complicated for a reporter to understand, they just assume it's genius/rational.

    • Q: Why is starting a comment in the Subject: line incredibly irritating?
    • moreover it's easy to fake and orchestrate evidence against someone on the internet... where are the witnesses? server logs can be tinkered with, etc.. and digital data doesn't leave a footprint like handwriting or erased handwriting.. and handwriting can be forged too.. everything in the world can be forged.. except gold and platinum and such, as substances, because of their high density.
  • Any more than the houses of witnesses are. It is a place where information about the accused may be found.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      My internet is already plastic bagged and tagged!

  • Double-Edged Sword (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:12AM (#47092475)

    Like pretty much any invention mankind has ever come up with, the Internet can help or hurt. If someone is feeling upset over something, they can turn to friends online for help and can get assistance, support, and guidance through their troubled times. Or, if they aren't as lucky or don't look in the right places, they can find abuse hurled at them, idiots saying "Why don't you just kill yourself" and the like, or an echo chamber where particular prejudices are amplified and focused against Group X being the cause of all of the person's problems.

    This isn't really that different from a distraught person seeking help from others via face-to-face social interaction except that the "kill yourself" jerks are probably somewhat less likely to say that to a person's face. Then again, some people I've met in person don't seem to care at all if what they say/do hurts another person. In fact, they consider hurting another person as "harmless fun." These people would be jerks even if the Internet had never existed.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If someone is feeling upset over something, they can turn to friends online for help and can get assistance, support, and guidance through their troubled times.

      Internet "friends" are no such thing - they are just electronic ghosts of people. The relationship is superficial and shallow - no matter how nice it is.

      Nothing beats face to face interaction with someone. Nothing.

      We have mirror neurons [google.com] that allow us to connect and help with emotional regulation.

      That kid didn't have adequate real personal connections. From what I've read, his family sounds pretty fucked up and mix in any mental illness this kid had (reported Aspie), you get the actions he committed.

      If t

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Such baiting is hardly new. From about 35 years ago:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      [sarcastic lyrics alert]

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:16AM (#47092491)
    No wonder people keep committing mass killings: they see the people that killed before them and see someone who was invisible, that no one paid attention to, become a household name. How many people here know the name of the person that shot up Sandy Hook, or the Colorado movie theater, this guy, or Columbine? Now, name me some of their vicitms? You can't. People that feel unstable, or feel marginalized and that no one ever notices them or cares about them, they already need mental help. If they turn to the internet, post videos on youtube or write blogs, they get pushed over the edge even more when no one watches their video, or people write negative comments. They get to the point where the only way to get noticed is to start killing people. If they do that they become famous, everyone starts talking about them. When you see yourself as only something they might see killing as the only way to become someone. Stop publishing the names of these killers, stop implicitly glorifying these people, and killings will drop. We also need to improve mental health treatment in the country, but that's a whole other topic.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not talking about it will not prevent it from happening again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Talking about it will not prevent it from happening again.
      • by HornWumpus (783565) on Monday May 26, 2014 @03:56PM (#47094403)

        At their core these are suicides. Suicide is contagious.

        Right now there are people on the edge of nutting up that are watching the attention this fuckwit is getting and thinking about it...

        It's the same the world over, in Germany 'Ghost Drivers' (murderous suicides that go the wrong way on the autobahn) happen in streaks.

        Reporters feed this problem. They have suggested advice (don't repeat the jackass' name constantly, report other things; don't focus on the killer.) but don't follow it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Posting AC here, but this is something I wholeheartedly agree on.

      CNN covered the whole biography of the shooter, read his manifesto out loud, and retraced his steps in very slow detail. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a monument with the guy's name on it. Of course, came the whining from the parents about how evil the gun sellers and the NRA were for not realizing their poor son was sick... but the kid was so rich, any doctor that stood in his way would likely have had a malpractice suit slammed on th

      • I was bullied as a kid, and as a young man. You know what I did? When I was mad enough at the injustice I saw I stood up to those bullies, as any young man (or young woman) should. Over time, I matured and learned that sometimes being a man means walking away from a fight. Fighting comes easily to us humans, it's easy to throw a punch (or to pull a trigger, for that matter). A true man or woman must do the hard thing in life sometimes, and sometimes the hard thing for us to do means walking away from a need
    • by Ravaldy (2621787)

      What killer?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's becoming so commonplace that the public don't even remember them long enough that it's still fresh when the next one happens. Then they say, "Oh, it's like Jared Loughner all over again." "Was he the one who shot up the theater?" "No, he's the one who shot up the congresswoman's public meeting." "Oh, yeah. Him."

      We've gone from "Never again" to "This again?" to "What a shame. Did you watch the game last night?"

    • How many people here know the name of the person that shot up Sandy Hook, or the Colorado movie theater, this guy, or Columbine?

      Can't remember any of them, actually. I mean, I remember that those shootings happen, but I couldn't come up with an associated name to save my life.

      Were we supposed to remember them? If so, I missed the memo.

      • by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday May 26, 2014 @01:51PM (#47093439)

        One of them (Adam Lanza) I remember only because the media started going crazy with "He had Asperger's which made him shoot everyone up." As someone with Asperger's Syndrome and as the father of a boy with Asperger's this struck a nerve. People with Asperger's aren't more likely to commit violent acts than neurotypical (non-Autistic) people. In fact, they are more likely to be the recipients of violence. If they do become violent, they are more likely to hurt themselves than others and even if they hurt others it will be in an unplanned out lashing out (e.g. swinging arms because they are upset and happening to hit someone), not a carefully planned out event like these mass killings were. But, unfortunately, the media loves a simple "reason" and seized on Asperger's as "the cause." The whole affair burned Lanza's name into my memory. So it wasn't his actions that cause me to remember him but the media missteps in reporting his actions.

        • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

          One of them (Adam Lanza) I remember only because the media started going crazy with "He had Asperger's which made him shoot everyone up." As someone with Asperger's Syndrome and as the father of a boy with Asperger's this struck a nerve.

          And how. Aother thing is the business of "You have to watch out for the quiet ones".

          Everyone looking for a stereotype to hang people with. Everyone wants a profile. Problem is, over enough time, and enough murders, everyone ends up fitting th profile.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          One of them (Adam Lanza) I remember only because the media started going crazy

          Only reason I know Klebold/Harris. I was in high school at the time, and not only the media, but freaking faculties were going scaremongering-nuts.

          The other two? I know them as loony with a dipshit mother, and bad joker cosplay.

          I expect I'll remember this latest jackass as Sir Daddy Bought me a BMW M'Lady of Friendzone.

    • by mcubed (556032)

      What evidence is there that infamy is a motivating factor behind spree killing? I'm not familiar with any.

      In most of the cases I have any familiarity with (which is most of them you cited), it doesn't seem to have been much of a motivating factor at all. Nor does it in this case. From the limited amount I've read about Elliot Rodger, it seems like he did have some desire to be heard and to be noticed, at least in specific contexts. He also didn't seem too shy about talking about his problems, at least onlin

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      you are full of shit, this kiler didn't care for fame. and no, I don't remember the names of any of the others, doesn't matter

    • Yup, it's time for the Moron Decree.

  • The bigger story (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:16AM (#47092493)

    is to congratulate the NSA and FBI on what a fine job they are doing spying on us. How safe they kept us with ever intrusive nets. That they can't even catch a kid whose own relatives called the police on him worried and posted out in the open that he'll kill people.

    And then they go on how they need more powers to protect us. Yeah, right, more like to control the populace.

    Congratulations Law Enforcement. Awesome work.

    • by judoguy (534886)
      The purpose of modern government is to protect us from liberty.
    • by ganjadude (952775)
      exactly. WE have been told repeatedly by the powers that be that they need the NSA illegal wiretaps to stop....this from happening. Meanwhile we hear the other day that the FBI got what they wanted the old fashoned way when microsoft told them to pound sand, and now this comes out and we see they couldnt stop a guy who pretty much said what he was going to do to the entire world publicly even!

      the NSA has to go as its clear they do not do what we the people pay them to do
    • by spire3661 (1038968) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:28AM (#47092561) Journal
      The NSA isnt WATCHING, they are RECORDING and STORING for later use. Its a very different game.
      • by mpe (36238)
        The NSA isnt WATCHING, they are RECORDING and STORING for later use. Its a very different game.

        They may well be watching. Just not WHO and WHY they claim to need the ability to do so.
        Which has often been the case throughout history. Any form of mass snooping appears to be far more often used against any kind of political dissent than homicidal mainiacs. It's not like he was anything like Mr Swartz...
      • by Ravaldy (2621787)

        They aren't watching. The articles of couples being approached by the FBI after doing specific searches on Google tells a different story.

      • It's a dstinction without a difference. They're lurking in the shadows between me and people (and web sites) I communicate with. It's creepy and I don't like it and I hope to find convenient ways to make it harder.
      • Unless you happen to be dating someone who works for the NSA, then they might be watching you.

        Or if you are a friend of someone who works for the NSA.

        Or if you just got someone in the NSA upset for some reason. Like that article you published lambasting the NSA.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)
      Or this is just a sign that the NRA has more political clout than the NSA.
    • ...and yet you would be screaming about "thoughtcrime" and "it's illegal to arrest people for precrime" if the NSA had actually alerted law enforcement. Isn't it wonderful doing the whole "damned if you do, damned if you don't" thing?

      By the way, what part of the NSA's charter approves domestic spying on Americans for law enforcement purposes?

    • is to congratulate the NSA and FBI on what a fine job they are doing spying on us. How safe they kept us with ever intrusive nets

      The spying has nothing to do with keep US citizens safe. That's an absurd idea.

    • by OhPlz (168413)

      Unless he crossed state lines, it's not a federal matter. This was the domain of California and the local authorities.

  • by Deadstick (535032) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:34AM (#47092595)

    ...will never get you a date if you (a) are a fairly nice-looking kid, (b) drive a BMW, and (c) have a father who employs actresses?

    About the only one I can think of is "Let me tell you about Amway".

    • Have you heard him talk?

      This guy pretty much defines 'utterly creepy psycho'. Just watch some of the video's discussed in TFA.

      • by hey! (33014)

        I haven't, but we were discussing this over the dinner table, and the consensus is that he must have given off major creepy vibes.

        It raises an interesting question: what if he had simply received training in not sounding creepy? Interesting, because I think something like that really could set someone on the path to becoming successfully socially integrated, but it could also transform someone from a creepy sounding psychopath into a charming psychopath.

        • I guess that really depends on what the root is for his antipathy towards women/people/mankind.

          In this case, I believe his social isolation was the root and getting him out of that with proper training and real-world exercise would have turned him into one of the many quite normal socially slightly challenged people in our society. If, however, some traumatic experience were the cause, then one would expect the result to indeed be a charming and doubly dangerous psychopath.

          I think this whole episode yet aga

          • Not just social isolation, but falling in with the wrong crowd socially. Had he had friends who educated him about his misogyny (and had he listened), he might have turned his dating life around. However, from the reports I've heard, he fell into a crowd who - like him - saw women as objects who should bend to men's sexual demands and who got upset when women insisted on being treated like actual people. This added to his mental instability instead of helping him.

            • I read some of the (cached) threads on bodybuilding.com he was in, but even in those cesspools of ignorance, he was the crazy one.

              Maybe the weirdest thing about those threads is that he also seemed quite socially inept online. Most not-ancient netizens would know that if someone said 'dude, you look like a total phaggot in those vids', the right reply is not 'WHAT?! I look fabulous in this vid. That is a $500 Prada sweater!'. Unless you were trolling, of course.

              For many people that are socially really awkwa

    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday May 26, 2014 @01:00PM (#47093151)
      Given that this idiot was still stewing over not getting to go on a carnival ride with his friends 16 years after the fact (apparently, the little shit was too short to meet the minimum height requirement - you remember those "you must be this tall to ride this ride" signs), I can well believe he came across as a whackjob.
    • Probably the kind of dating approach where he viewed women as objects whose sole purpose in this world was to bend to his sexual desires instead of viewing them as actual people. That would more than cancel out any much more superficial things he had going for him (looks, money, etc).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        No, you can be a total psychopath and still be getting as much sex as you want - both in terms of quantity and quality. But you do have to understand people.

        The first key insight is that most people, including women, are profoundly selfish. Very very few women will have sex with you because you deserve it. Almost all of them have learned the hard way that life isn't fair. And they're not inclined to bring a bit more justice to the world by having sex with you. You can be the Mother Theresa of male college s

  • by larwe (858929) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:35AM (#47092601) Homepage
    So what I glean from this is "Step 1 in committing any crime: Delete all social media accounts before posting anything about it".
    • So what I glean from this is "Step 1 in committing any crime: Delete all social media accounts before posting anything about it".

      Only if you care about what happens afterwards.

      That's like saying a better death penalty would have discouraged this guy. He never intended to survive and the only thing that would have held him back would have been the certainty that he couldn't have done anything to begin with. Consequences after the fact were immaterial.

      • by larwe (858929)
        Completely missing my point. Assume that datamining a la NSA, FBI, etc, actually worked to protect the citizenry from thoughtcrime before it becomes realcrime. Thus, the best way to avoid that worm, if you wanted to commit a crime, would be to delete all your social media accounts so they can't even get a network diagram for you, let alone posting bullshit rants about whatever you intend to use as your justification for going crazy and killing people. Of course, the actual fact is that predictive analysis
        • Completely missing my point. Assume that datamining a la NSA, FBI, etc, actually worked to protect the citizenry from thoughtcrime before it becomes realcrime. Thus, the best way to avoid that worm, if you wanted to commit a crime, would be to delete all your social media accounts so they can't even get a network diagram for you, let alone posting bullshit rants about whatever you intend to use as your justification for going crazy and killing people.

          Of course, the actual fact is that predictive analysis like this is worthless, because humans are non-deterministic creatures.

          Deleting the evidence isn't going to help if the authorities were going to go all Minority Report. In fact, a sudden disappearance of tell-tale rants would be a prime indicator that the suspect was transitioning from the rant phase to the rampage phase.

          The best way to stay off the radar is never to post anything to begin with. Which in itself probably gets you flagged in this Brave New World.

          Humans are not non-deterministic, although they can be perverse. And, of course, they aren't rigidly deterministic. Y

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        Yep. These events are not massacres. They are loud, messy suicides.

  • When somebody posts to social media, and particularly when the police interviewed a subject, perhaps "subscribe" to their "channels"? When another posting is made with explicit threats, prevention should be much easier.

    So, stop wasting time attempting to decipher secret messages and codes, and collecting meta data, when terrorism is spelled out so blatantly.

    God! Please tell me I'm not living in a computer simulation designed by a "Terry Gilliam" like person!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can we stop with this insane fetishization of guns and make the gun store where this supposed "law abiding" "supreme gentlemen" bought his instruments of death a crime scene too? America, when will this madness end?

    • Did he buy the knife at the gun store too?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Yes, let's just conveniently ignore the fact that guns tend to stand out from most other objects that can be used to kill or main people since guns are *intended* and *designed* to kill or maim people *at a distance*.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't like guns, I don't own a gun, I don't want a gun, and won't be buying a gun any time soon. They scare the shit out of me. All the same, I recognize a foaming-at-the-mouth hysteric when I see one. The 'insane fetishization' is coming from the anti-gun crowd.

  • Or does the summary read like a trailer for a Humphrey Bogart movie?

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Monday May 26, 2014 @01:30PM (#47093343)

    He killed 3 with a knife and 3 with a legally purchased firearm. He also tried to kill others with his car.

  • I'd bet money (if I had money) that the kid was the type to walk around and chat with his hands in his pockets. That would explain a-lot.
  • We do have the technology to spot mental illness in school kids and even in employment situations. There are two facts involved. First, real testing is expensive and requires specialists including things like PET scans, MRI scans and a full medical workup in addition to psychological testing. Then the next problem is even worse. You have little Johnny in the seventh grade and his behavior seems a slight bit off. You test him which might cost 20K and determine that he in fact has a mental illness.
  • This guy apparently posted his video on Youtube in which he said "tomorrow" would be the day he carried out his killing spree. Why didn't anyone who watched the video the day he posted it alert the authorities, and if anyone did, why didn't the authorities stop him?

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