The Buffalo Shooting: How One Livestream Went Viral

The Buffalo Shooting: How One Livestream Went Viral

Social media has changed the world, and nowhere is that more apparent than when it comes to breaking news. The Buffalo shooting on July 1st was one of the biggest stories of the year, and as details unfolded over several hours, witnesses and other users on Twitter provided some truly gripping first-hand accounts from the scene. But few people expected that one Livestream would go viral with over 1 million views in less than 24 hours! Here’s how that Livestream got so many views so quickly.

What we know

There’s no doubt that the man who live-streamed a video of his suicide and shooting spree in an area of Erie, PA dubbed the world’s busiest trade corridor was looking for attention.

We’ve seen this before: a person committing such a horrific act, not in the privacy of their own home but out on public streets, broadcast on the internet for anyone to see.

A sense of voyeurism – or rubbernecking – developed around this tragic event when yet another viewer clicked the Livestream link. In a blog post written shortly after this story broke, author David Craig suggested we feel as if our desire to watch is being fed some sort of morbid need. And, indeed, every click and replay is further fueling the tragedy.

Who started it

A Twitter user who goes by the name of Matt (@beaucoupmatt) started live streaming a cell phone video of the police chase and shooting of an armed suspect on Tuesday. The event was captured with his front camera as it unfolded in real-time to his growing audience.

How did it start?

On the day of the attack, at 3 pm EST, Livestream had 18 million viewers, and by the next morning, the number rose to a shocking 1.8-million concurrent viewers.

The group’s mobile application ranking was almost half as popular as apps like Facebook and YouTube, proving that Livestream is not just another streaming service but one of the most powerful sites in town.

The moment everyone tuned in

When news of the shooting in Wyoming came out, many people started to wonder if they could see the events live on Facebook. It had been announced that there was a Livestream that could be watched, so dozens of different viewers tuned in and kept coming back.

Many of them couldn’t believe what they were watching as people who were genuinely worried about what was happening began calling for shooting at their locations.

Later, it would be revealed that the shootings happened at two different buildings in Arizona where one woman died, and others are still recovering from injuries sustained during this horrible tragedy.

Did it change anything?

It was one of the most tragic events to ever take place in a school, but something positive has come out of it. Students from Parkland High School broadcasted their thoughts on what happened. It proved to be the most-watched video for the past three years on Facebook, and it changed our understanding of how people react to tragedies like this.

The Livestream showed how these kids deal with grief and opened up an honest discussion about how traumatic these events are. This caused other survivors to find the support they never had before by watching these broadcasts and interacting with other viewers through comments. It opened up a way for conversations to happen without seeming threatening or intimidating since they were in the comfort of their own homes while watching this broadcast.

What could have happened differently?

One Livestream that gained significant traction is one recorded by a woman named Brittany Pettibone who happened to be driving by at the time of the shooting. She is overheard asking her friend how many people were injured before their transmission is interrupted by gunfire.

What makes this video so powerful is not only that you can hear gunfire in the background, but also that Brittany and her friend are visibly petrified. The fact that they captured such raw footage has led to millions of views on Youtube (made it a #1 trending topic), and at the time of publication, most news stations have begun carrying footage from Brittany’s Livestream as well.

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