SAN FRANCISCO: Popular photo-sharing network Instagram has taken down the account of a man who allegedly assassinated two New York City police officers in an “execution-style” shooting.
Hours before committing the act, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley posted veiled threats and provocative messages on his Instagram account, subsequently walking up to the two officers in a parked squad car in Brooklyn and shooting them dead.
Their cold-blooded deaths have revived the debate on the role of social media in exposing public threats of violence.
Instagram users took to the photo-sharing service to question why the murderer was not caught in advance if his postings were uploaded hours before.
“Why did no one catch this and it was three hours prior to the shooting,” asked Instagram user jen_knee_fur89, echoing the sentiments of other commenters.
Critics are divided on the role of social media in preventing such crimes, with some saying they should actively monitor and police content, while others believe that it is “unrealistic” to expect social media operators to monitor literally millions of real time messages and posts.
They also believe that any restrictions on posts risks jeopardising freedom of speech in cyberspace.
Instagram, which does a minimal amount of self-policing and relies on users to flag inappropriate content, was quick to act on Brisley’s posts upon learning of the tragic incident.
“Our deepest thoughts and sympathies go out to the family and friends of the two police officers who were shot and killed in New York.
“There is no place for this content within our community. It was a violation of our terms and was quickly removed,” said Instagram spokeswoman Alison Schumer.
Screenshots that were shared by Instagram users however revealed Brinsley’s posts, where he likened the police officers to pigs.
“I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take one of ours ... Let’s take two of theirs,” he wrote alongside a picture of a silver handgun.
According to the reports, he appended the suggestive hashtags #ShootThePolice, #RIPErivGarner and #RIPMike Brown.“This May Be My Final Post...I’m Putting Pigs In A Blanket,” he said.
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