Thursday, 6 January 2011

Mail reports Facebook link to Joanna Yeates murder.... quelle surprise.

So. Ryan Kisiel, Luke Salkeld, Emily Andrews and Arthur Martin have written yet another article in the Daily Fail about the murder of Joanna Yeates. This one is quite special (and apparently required four of them to write it), because it has the ubiquitous blaming of Facebook for all society's ills.

At the beginning of the article, we are told that Joanna "may have been murdered by a 'friend' who became infatuated with her via Facebook". We are then told that the "[p]olice are increasingly convinced that the 25-year-old was killed by someone who knew her and was possibly welcomed into her rented flat in Bristol while her boyfriend was away for the weekend".

(n.b. Things I will ignore from the previous quote: 1) The palpable devastation at not being able to put a value on her flat. 2) The focus on the age and marital status of the victim. 3) The implication that if her boyfriend was there, either a) she wouldn't have invited anyone round and would thus be safe or b) he could have protected her. 4) The implication that 'the youth of today' will invite anyone who befriends them on a social networking site into their house. Just so you know.)

The Fail then tell us that "officers are contacting many of the 200 or so people Miss Yeates had listed as 'friends' on her Facebook profile". Right. So the police are using a social networking site to establish a list of people who may have known and/or seen the victim in her last hours. I, for one, would consider that sensible. The ubiquitousness of social networking profiles in this day and age does provide a list of people to question in the event of a disappearance or death. Frankly, all that the police would have to do would be to ask one of my Facebook friends when I last updated my status, and they'd have a probable time of death.

Apparently, "[i]mportantly for the police investigation, her 'security settings' on the site - designed to restrict access by other Facebook users not in that list - were set quite low, meaning almost anyone with a computer had access to her site". Oh. Right. So it wasn't a Facebook friend that killed her, but someone who stumbled across her Facebook page, developed an obsession with her, and was WELCOMED INTO HER FLAT, because that's what young people do nowadays. Or something.

We are then told that "Miss Yeates and her boyfriend were both keen users of Facebook and after her death the website was used to set up a memorial page. She had more than 200 friends on Facebook, from all sections of her social life including friends from university, the local rowing club, her family home in Hampshire and other connections. The site has been taken down by her family since she was killed." Thus ends the Facebook diatribe. Short version? 'Average twenty-something Facebook user has average twenty-something friends on Facebook'. 
I'm now going to sum up what this article tells us.
  1. A woman was murdered
  2. The woman had a profile on Facebook
  3. The woman might have been killed by someone she knew 
  4. The woman might have been killed by someone she didn't know
Well. I, for one, am enlightened by this stellar piece of journalism.


  1. It was probably those damn minorities... comming over here killing our jobs and stealing the socks off our ugly intellectual womenfolk. Send them to camps i say. Andy x

  2. I actually pity the journalists who write this kind of nonsense for the Daily Mail. Clearly, at some point in their lives, such folk must have made the decision to commit intellectual and spiritual suicide. They were surely damaged goods to go to such extremes, don't you agree? Be honest -- my explanation for their vacuosity is no less fatuous and absurd than trying to implicate Facebook in Yeats' murder.

  3. Love this - it's borderline ludicruous how much social media has managed to mess with this case and help the tabloids blow it out of proportion. I wrote something on this myself...
    PS It's Yeates, incidentally.

  4. It is. Sorry, I wrote this post at about 3 a.m. after finishing work. I shall amend it now.

    P.S. Good post!

  5. Hmmm some good points.

    Unfortunately you've failed to inform me on how this will affect the value of MY house or whether this information will give me (or cure my)cancer.