Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci on ways that media and law enforcement can reduce the number of copycat killers after a mass shooting:
1. Law enforcement should not release details of the methods and manner of the killings, and those who learn those details should not share them.
2. If and when social media accounts of the killers are located, law enforcement should work with the platforms to immediately pull them.
3. The name of the killer should not be revealed immediately. If possible, law enforcement and media sources should agree to withhold it for weeks.
Similarly, the killer should not be profiled extensively, at least not at first.
4. The intense push to interview survivors and loved ones in their most vulnerable moments should be stopped.
These points are not unlike forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz’ principles for not propagating mass murders:
Don’t start the story with sirens blaring.
Don’t have photographs of the killer.
Don’t make this 24/7 coverage.
Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story.
Not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero.
Do localise this story to the affected community and as boring as possible in every other market.