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Facebook Live 'Chicago Torture' Video Raises Serious Questions About Youth on Social Media

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If there's one clear distinction to be drawn between the video content on Facebook and the content on, say, YouTube, it's that Facebook video is far more susceptible to stupid, and even dangerous trends. Because of the direct link between what you post and what your friends see, the tendency to act out, or follow the pack is intoxicating to some. We've had people setting themselves on fire, downing entire bottles of something you wouldn't even want to sip and worst of all, assaulting others.

The news has been ablaze for the past few days with articles about a harrowing Facebook Live clip in which four teenagers corner and assault another young boy, burning him with cigarette butts, cutting at his scalp with a pen knife, kicking him and punching him. At several points during the 30-minute video, the perpetrators say 'f*** Trump' or 'f*** white people'.

There is a very strong anti-white sentiment to it all, all four of the perpetrators are black, and the victim is white. The alt-right movement have been swift to blame this attack/kidnapping on Black Lives Matter - effectively using a brutal attack as a banner for a political agenda. Let's be clear - there is nothing to be learned about Black Lives Matter or the racial equality movement from this attack, but there's a great deal to be learned about the way social media, and Facebook video in particular, has warped the young-minded view of the world.

Plenty of attacks like this have happened in the past but the teens of yesteryear would never have even dreamed of posting, let alone broadcasting them in this way. Did these kids stream the attack because they could? Because they wanted to make a statement? In a sense the answer to both is yes, but in truth it's really because that's just how kids are living their lives now.

We all went to school, and I'd wager we all either saw or experienced some pretty nasty things. Kids with difficult home lives, or other daily struggles lash out, other kids are targeted, it escalates. It's not new behaviour, but the advent of social media has placed it in a more public forum than ever before. In years past, something like this would have been dealt with very carefully, and more privately, but in this case it's wide out in the open.

Is that better or worse? Did the wider world need to see this footage? Judging from the reaction, all it's done is coax a mixture of political posturing and concerned debate about how recent events have affected the youth of America. What you have to ask is, if these kids were happy to show their faces, what were they thinking? Did they think they were going to get away with it, or did they actually want people to see them doing it?

Is it possible that, in a world where all aspects of life can be shared online, that even the most cruel behaviour is deemed share-worthy. Of course, we don't know what the exact motivations of the attackers were, we may never know, but it represents a disturbing example of what happens when you combine a connected world with the anger, angst and confusion of today's youth.


Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @Songbird_Callum

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Facebook Live 'Chicago Torture' Video Raises Serious Questions About Youth on Social Media Reviewed by Callum Davies on Friday, January 06, 2017 Rating: 5

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