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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Social Media Fail: Utah Attorney General "Live Tweets" An Execution

A wise cyberfriend once said "Some things aren't meant to be a Facebook status." I would like to amend that to include Twitter.

For some strange reason, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff thought it was a good idea to give a real time Twitter update of Ronnie Lee Gardner's execution. As if an execution by firing squad was not controversial enough. Attorney General Shurtleff did not stop there, making another Tweet informing his followers that he will be live streaming his press conference at the exact moment of Gardner's death.

Naturally, people were not pleased with Shurtleff's over sharing and used Twitter to voice their outrage. Some defended Shurtleff saying that he is a government official and is obligated to keep the public informed of government business.

What I found interesting was that people for the most part had the same negative reactions about the tweeting regardless of their feelings about the death penalty in general. While it can be argued that social networking sites are just another form of media like TV or radio, my gut doesn't buy that. When I learned about AG Shurtleff's tweets, I had a strong sense that this was going too far. I was also reminded of when reports of a woman
live tweeting her abortion ignited a similar firestorm of controversy.

In an age of Google searches, reality television, and sex tapes, is a person's entire life (and death) now to be played out in the public eye? Where do we draw the line?

Utah official gives execution go-ahead, then tweets (Yahoo News)


Talented_Ink said...

From what I know about Shurtleff, he mainly tweeted about the execution out of anger, hatred, and vengeance based on Gardener's murders. My thoughts on the wrongness of both of these men would fill a blog, so I think I'll try to answer your last 2 questions instead. A person's entire life & death can be(and has) played out in the public eye because of what is deemed acceptable now. I might sound a little preachy, but the popular loss of morals and values have desensitized us to violence, objectified sex, and has made some controversial and/or immoral things arguably decent. We have to draw the line at what we consider acceptable and hopefully the next person will be inspired to do so as well.

Amaka said...

Talented Ink,

I agree there has to be a line drawn. Life is becoming a lot like the movie The Truman Show. An unintended consequence of a lot of the new technology we have is that it has created a voyeuristic culture where everything is for public consumption.

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