Auto play on social media questioned after graphic video of shooting surfaced

Many question the autoplay function on Facebook after shooter posts video of news crew shooting in Roanoke, Virginia.

This report is from our sister station KIMT in Mason City, Iowa.

MASON CITY, Iowa (WKBN) – The videos were difficult to watch and as some found out, probably just as difficult to avoid if you turned to social media yesterday following the murder of two journalists live on air.

Not long after Parker and Ward were killed, the shooter posted videos online of himself firing his weapon at the two while they were live.

The videos have since been taken down from several social media sites, but many have complained about the auto-play feature that forces you to watch a video, as soon as you scroll down the screen.

Bereavement specialists say the public nature of the crimes can make matters worse for those trying to grieve.

“There’s always elements of shock and disbelief in any grief process. When it’s a violent situation like this was, that can be intensified. So we always encourage people to surround yourselves with supportive and loving family and friends and to be able to visualize some of the things that you’re thinking,” said Kathryn Mills, Bereavement Specialist with Hospice of North Iowa.

Mills says with our busy schedules, we can also be comforted by those friends and family through social media.

A trend she says may not have the same effect, but can be more convenient.

In speaking with Mills she explains how it’s common to see people grieve for those who they’ve never met especially in situations where we may witness the tragedy ourselves.

“Especially with sudden and traumatic deaths, our sense of safety is shaken and the assumptions we have about the world around us are turned upside down. So it takes a little while to feel like we do live in a safe place that these are not common things that happen. It’s hard to think that way sometimes when we see so much of the violence,” said Mills.

On most social media sites, the auto-play function is optional and can be turned off in your personal settings.

Mills recommends the following options for anyone coping with the grief.

  • Support groups
  • Religious/ Spiritual community
  • Bereavement counselors
  • Local mental health associations

Mills says you may want to contact your physician if you become very depressed, have thoughts of harming yourself or you begin using alcohol or drugs to numb the pain.

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