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Followers of School Shooting Online Communities in Russia: Age, Gender, Anonymity and Regulations

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  • Tomsk National Research Medical Center
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Abstract

Today, for about five online communities, which promotes aggressive ideology are registered daily in the largest Russian social networking site VK. These online communities advocate aggression, self-harm, and suicide. Community administrators gradually shape a large group of young people for whom aggression is normal. Although there are a lot of studies on school shooting phenomenon, most of them are focused on media and legal issues, or psychological motivation of shooters. Current study is aimed to identify the real audience (followers) of school shooting online communities in social network, and their gender, age and social characteristics. Over the course of three months, we collected and analyzed opened and publicly accessible data from nine online communities with more than 1,500 followers. We found that school shooting communities' followers were mostly males aged 15 to 22. We suggested this age and gender group of young people was the most vulnerable in front of destructive information influence in social media. In addition, we note that rules and regulations including community banning make some barriers for researchers, who investigate community content, behavior and characteristics of their followers. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that the policy of banning online school shooting communities for security reasons is effective as a barrier for spreading dangerous ideas among youth.

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Social media’s influence on frequency of incidents
  • K J Lee
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