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Facebook is a Dangerous Place: Two Arrested on Suspicion of Double Murder Over ‘defriending’

Posted on the 10 February 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Facebook is a dangerous place: Two arrested on suspicion of double murder over ‘defriending’

Facebook: The dangers of defriending. Photo credit: Dave Rutt

A couple in Tennessee with an 8-month-old baby were murdered in their home in retribution for “defriending” a woman on Facebook, local law enforcement said on Thursday. Two men, one the father of the defriended woman, have been arrested in connection with the crime.

According to local police, Billy Clay Payne, Jr. and his partner Billie Jean Hayworth were each shot through the head in their Johnson County home about one month after they removed Jenelle Potter, the daughter of one of the suspects, from their Facebook friend list. Marvin Potter, 60, and Jamie Curd, 38, have been arrested on two counts of first-degree murder.

Police also said that several harassment cases had been filed against Jenelle Potter, all involving someone blocker her or defriending her on Facebook. Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece told Reuters, “Once you’ve crossed her, you’ve crossed her father too,” adding that the younger Potter lives at home with her parents and spends a lot of time on Facebook. The public defender representing one of the suspects told the news agency, however, that there’s more to the story than just a Facebook interaction gone wrong.

In perhaps the most chilling detail, the couple’s 8-month-old baby was found, thankfully unharmed, in the mother’s arms when the bodies were discovered, Reuters reported.

But this isn’t the first time – and it likely won’t be the last – that a social networking site dedicated to bringing people closer has had violent or deadly consequences resultant from those interactions. Reuters noted that in Iowa last year, a woman was arrested after allegedly setting fire to a friend’s garage after being defriended; in Texas, a man was accused of beating his wife after she failed to “like” a posting of his about the anniversary of his mother’s death. Here are a few of the more notable cases:

Defriending house fire. In October 2011, Jennifer Christine Harris of Des Moines, Iowa, was arrested after she set fire to the garage of Jim and Nikki Rasmussen, a couple who had recently defriended her on Facebook. Police say that the fight began after the Harris and Nikki Rasmussen were planning a party together, publicised on Facebook; when it looked like the party wasn’t going to come off, the two had a falling out. And then Harris tried to set Rasmussen’s house on fire.

‘Social cleansing’ on the social network. In 2010 in Puerto Asís, Colombia, several teenagers were killed after a “hit list” of people allegedly involved in local drug sales and prostitution was posted onto the social networking site. According to The Economist, the list ultimately bore the names of some 69 people and was posted by a local vigilante-style gang promising “social cleansing”; residents of the town fled in panic and commentators worried about the increasing use of Facebook as a tool of social intimidation.

Why people defriend on Facebook: The number one reason people defriend their Facebook “friends” was over “offensive comments”, according to the Pew Center. The second was simply not knowing the defriended very well.

Man kills wife over ‘single’ status. In 2008, a British man flew into a rage and killed his estranged wife after she changed her Facebook status to “single” four days after he moved out. Wayne Forrester told the court that, fueled by alcohol and cocaine, he drove to the mother-of-two’s home in Croydon, south London, and attacker her with a knife and a meat cleaver as she slept. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty.

Facebook-related crime rose 540 percent in Britain in five years up until 2010, according to The Daily Mail – everything from bullying to terrorism to missing pets.

Teenager jailed over Facebook death threat. In August 2009, Keeley Houghton, 18, became the first person in Britain to be jailed for bullying another individual over Facebook after she threatened to kill Emily Moore, also 18, a girl she had been bullying in real life for four years. She was sentenced to three months in a young offenders’ institution.

More on the dark side of the internet

  • BBC confronts notorious RIP troll
  • Trolling: The dark side of the revealed after cyber bully convicted
  • Parents who hack their children
  • Is the internet breeding hate?
  • Or is it breeding sex crimes?

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