In a damning reflection on the dangers of social media a fallout on Facebook has caused a Mexican teen to murder her best friend by stabbing her 65 times in the back. Erandy Elizabeth Gutierrez was furious with fellow teen, Anel Baez, for posting semi-nude photos of the two of them to the social network and swore to have her revenge. The 16 year old Gutierrez took to another social network to warn Baez, also 16, that she would be fortunate to still be alive at the end of the year. Gutierrez went on to state that although she might appear calm and not legitimately angry but, “in my head I have killed you at least three times”. This chilling threat was treated as a joke by Baez, who assumed her friend was just engaging in light banter over the incident, despite another promising to “bury” Baez for her betrayal of trust.
This misinterpretation of Gutierrez’s words led to Baez subsequently inviting her friend over to her house in Guamuchil, Mexico, as if nothing was wrong. If she was hoping for a reconciliation or to smooth out the problems between the two of them, she was sadly mistaken. While at the house Gutierrez requested to use the bathroom in order to secretly slip into the kitchen and find a knife in order to carry out her horrific crime. Despite their previous closeness, the Mexican teen seems to have had no qualms about her mission to stab her best friend 65 times, all because of a fallout on Facebook caused by a few pictures they were both happy to take together.
Not only was Gutierrez coldly calculating in committing the gruesome and shocking murder, she displayed the same lack of guilt and regret in the aftermath of the killing. Running from the crime scene she attempted to rid her clothes and the knife she used, of the blood they were covered in, although she was not able to clean them thoroughly. She also pretended innocence as she tried to appear ignorant of the chain of events which led to the murder of Anel Baez, even attending the poor girls funeral along with friends and family with a face full of false grief. Police did finally trace the crime back to Gutierrez and she was then arrested at the funeral.
Although Facebook was not the primary cause of the death, with responsibility resting firmly with the disturbed teenager that killed her friend in such a callous manner, its role in the incident should not be ignored. Facebook related crimes are now reported to the police every 40 minutes in the UK. These cases range in nature from the more extreme, such as the Baez murder, rape, sexual assault and kidnappings, to fraud, intimidation and cyber bullying. The majority of cases concerned the lesser, but still worrying, offenses of intimidation and cyber bullying. It is often a case of an online dispute being the precursor to real violence or an attempt by pedophiles to groom young children. Other times, especially as a response to cyber bullying, suicide is linked with the site. Regardless of what it leads to however, it is an inescapable fact that social media, and Facebook in particular, is now often used for much less social means than those for which it was invented.
Indeed, this is also not the first time nude photos have been implicated in social media crime. They are another common factor in disputes online, often being used to blackmail, humiliate and shame the people they depict for reasons similar to the vengeful incentive that Gutierrez claimed to have. Although Facebook itself is not the problem, merely a tool which can be used to create them, precautions should be taken in conjunction with the use of the network to try and help avoid such malicious and dangerous activities. Both privacy settings and greater awareness of the threats posed by online exposure need to be explored in more depth, both by the social media platform and the public in order to avoid future tragedies.
The fact that a fallout on Facebook could lead a Mexican teen to stab her best friend 65 times and then pretend it did not happen is a horrendous example of how the site can be implemented in causing the most deadly crimes, and provides a clear warning on the dangers of social media, not just Facebook, which need to be heeded in any way possible.
Commentary by Rhona Scullion