Category Archives: Social Media Ethics

Snapchat … can kill?

ohsnapNBC News recently covered a story (click the image above) involving a deadly crash in Tampa, Fl. that authorities say may have been caused by a passenger in one of the cars using Snapchat’s video speed filter feature. Law enforcement authorities reported that approximately ten minutes before the crash, a female passenger (who along with the driver were killed in the crash) was using Snapchat’s speed video filter to record the driver driving at 115 mph. The car they were riding in collided with a minivan, killing a mother and her two children.

In the video, law enforcement officials question the purpose of the speed filter and suggest that it may have played a role in a number of other accidents. Although Snapchat said “our hearts are broken for all those affected by this tragic car accident,” and although the company claims that they actively discourage using the speed filter while driving, one has to wonder why Snapchat doesn’t simply remove the filter.

What are the ethical issues involved here? What do you think? Should Snapchat remove the filter? To what degree are they responsible for any accidents that may be related to using the feature?

Update (November 2, 2016): Here’s another case involving the Snapchat speed filter that was used by an 18-year-old driver who crashed, critically injuring a passenger in her car. In this case, Snapchat is being sued because it “has an obligation under the law not to place dangerous items into the stream of commerce.” Thanks to Catherine Adams for the tip.


“Be careful when you’re going to Walmart”

Shawnee, Kansas, mother Wendy Russell Macrorie posted a video to Facebook yesterday after a trip to Walmart to buy “light bulbs and stuff; an inner tube for my son for his bike and everybody was telling everybody not to go outside.” After she got back to her car and noticed what was going on in front of it she felt compelled to shoot video of it and then to comment on the experience of shopping at Walmart.

What was happening in front of her car was a police shooting of two men suspected of stealing a car. The video (linked below) shows police officers, apparently with their weapons drawn, and with two of the suspects (one of whom was reportedly already dead) on the ground. “So you be careful when you’re going to Walmart. This is really scary and insane and grotesque and I am freaked out,” Macrorie advised in the video.

This seems to bring up two points: Was it right for Macrorie to post the video on Facebook, as some sort of typical status update? Second, was it right for her to suggest that Walmart is the sort of place that is besieged by criminals? What do you think?