NEW ORLEANS - There is now a $50,000 reward in the search for Steve Stephens. He's wanted for killing a 74-year-old man in Cleveland. Stephens allegedly recorded the shooting and posted it to Facebook.
In the 24 hours since the video has gone viral, pictures of Stephens in New Orleans have also surfaced. The photos show him and Joy Lane, a woman who he says "drove him crazy." It is not clear when the photos were taken. In one photo the couple is in a restaurant, another, in front of the Supreme Court. But the video is what is making headlines.
"This particular video was up for three hours before Facebook caught it and took it down," said Tiffany Starnes, an adjunct professor at Loyola University's School of Mass Communications, and owner of Starnes Solutions, a marketing strategy company.
Starnes said the video was not only saved but shared, likely millions of times. So the big question is why share such a heinous crime to such a wide audience?
"They're seeking immortality in a very strange perverted way," said Dr. Peter Scharf, a health criminologist with Louisiana State University.
Scharf said people who carry out crimes and publicize it are seeking attention.
"They want to become famous," Scharf said. "These are often people who cannot achieve fame in more socially accepted ways."
The other real concern is whether social media posts like Stephens posted encourages similar behavior.
"It's a certain kind of person. Not everyone is going to run out and kill a 74-year-old man, but it encourages this form of fame," Scharf said.
And as Starnes notes, social media does not disappoint as a platform for those who want to spread a bad message.
"So social networks aren't going to go backward," Starnes said. "They're not going to censor what they're putting out there, and that's part of our need and our demand for instant news."
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