Making sense of murder: Characterizing stories in social media groups

Lev-On, A. (2023). Making sense of murder: Characterizing stories in social media groups. Media, Culture & Society, 45(8), 1708–1719.


Open access: Yes

Notes: Encountering content displaying violence is not an uncommon occurrence—we often see videos and images showing murder and war, to name a few. In this article, the author discusses the collaborative sense-making processes surrounding such content. Studying a conversation about an alleged murder, the author posits conversations around violent content as conduits through which people make sense of tragic events and crime. In this process, the author delineates sense-making on social media as public and collaborative. In sum, the author highlights the audience of violent content as agentic and active, noting that: ‘Individuals not only share their narratives with their immediate social circles but also extend them to encompass a wider audience, which includes strangers. In return, these narratives elicit input, ranging from empathetic gestures to practical advice, from a diverse array of individuals” (p. 1717). This study then emphasizes the role of audiences in shaping and challenging narratives of violence on digital platforms.

Abstract: Social media platforms evolved into significant arenas for comprehending crises, hardships, violence, and murder. This paper contributes to the discourse within the intersection of social media and crime by delving into the narratives through which people pour meaning online into tragedies with personal significance. When people experience life-changing events, some go through a process of “sense-making” to fully understand the events and their implications, and reach closure. Processes of “sense-making” become increasingly public and collaborative through stories people tell on social media. Still, a dearth of literature exists that systematically examines these stories as conduits for infusing meaning into tragedies. This article bridges this gap by analyzing the narratives emanating from Facebook groups commemorating Tair Rada and advocating for justice for Roman Zadorov, who was convicted with her murder. These narratives not only challenge Zadorov’s culpability but also recount the sequence of events leading to the tragedy. Furthermore, they delve into the identity and motivations of the perpetrator(s), resuscitating neglected lines of police investigation and occasionally introducing alternative narratives. To establish their narratives’ credibility, authors employ a range of strategies such as integrating source materials, employing categorical language, and cultivating an atmosphere of personal witnessing or knowledge acquisition.

Join the ConversationLeave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *