The recent Idaho Murder Case has intrigued yet stumped most of the Internet. Four University of Idaho students were murdered within the safety of their own home, yet two of the roommates survived. People have been questioning each and every aspect of the case due to the lack of information made known to the public. How did the two survivors not hear a thing? Where is the murder weapon? Who could have committed such a brutal crime?
With so many questions left unanswered, many people on TikTok have taken it upon themselves to solve this case. While it may be thrilling to solve a murder mystery, it is important for people to understand that their words affect people’s lives, even if it not be their own. The Idaho Murder Case is not a Clue game where you can start accusing random people until you find the right one. Powerful accusations like these negatively affect the lives of the victims.
Internet sleuthing affects the lives of victims forever, whereas the accuser is never held accountable for their actions. For example, in the Idaho Murder Case, TikTokers formed rumors about the “hoodie guy,” as TikTokers named him, who was seen in a security video at the corner of a street. The police shared this security video of Kaylee Gonclaves, Madison Mogen, and the hooded man at a food truck hours before their murders.
“Hoodie guy” is not some character in a show; he is a real person with a real life outside of people’s Internet sleuthing. According to Meaww, an entertainment news source, his name is Jack Showalter, a college student that happened to be at the food truck at the same time as the young girls. People started to create rumors about Showalter, claiming that he fled the country and is hiding in Africa with his parents. His entire life took a turn as people on the Internet accused him of being the murderer. Their reasoning was that he looked “suspicious” in the security video.
TikTok detectives overanalyzed the video, stating that actions such as putting his hood up and glancing at the girls made him the killer. Showalter is now a murderer because he put his hood up? It is illogical claims like these that put people’s lives at risk. TikTokers should not make these harmful claims just for a few more views or likes on their videos. This sort of defamation may affect someone’s life forever, even after the case is solved. After all, acting suspiciously does not make someone a killer. Concrete evidence does.
TikTok detectives should leave the professional work to the professionals rather than harassing innocent people on the Internet. Detectives have much more knowledge, experience, and resources when it comes to high-profile cases such as this one. Detectives have formally studied criminology and have access to resources such as DNA analysis and government records. TikTokers do not have the same advantages or knowledge as detectives do. Additionally, the police refrain from sharing valuable information about a case in order to purposefully misguide the killer. What the police reveal to the public does not encompass all the information they have regarding the case. Therefore, the police force is able to solve a case much more accurately than a TikTok “detective” ever would.
Though they may not realize it, TikTokers are not working with the police to solve the case. They do not hold any resources that the police force does not already have. TikTokers may believe they are assisting the police with new facts, but in reality, they are most likely not. The accusations they make on the Internet cause harm to many families and potentially danger the lives of victims. I believe that Tiktok entertainment is not worth putting lives at risk for.
TikTokers need to understand that the videos they make and the comments they leave have a major impact on someone’s everyday life. The Internet does not just stop online. It is a part of our daily lives and has a tremendous influence on our opinions and viewpoints. Accusing another person of such a remorseless crime is not something that can be taken lightheartedly. The Internet needs to understand the seriousness of situations like these and act sensibly. It is never acceptable to put others’ lives at risk for your own entertainment and satisfaction.
As for Showalter, there are still many people that do not believe he is innocent, despite the police catching the true killer. His sister has asked the Internet to apologize to him for spreading these horrible rumors about him, but it is yet to be determined what his fate will be.
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