Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who murdered six people and injured many more in Santa Barbara on Friday, left behind a voluminous Internet footprint on YouTube, Facebook, Internet forums, and in the form of a 141-page autobiography that was swiftly uploaded after a local news station received it in the mail. On Saturday, YouTube took down a video titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution” in which Rodger laid out his plans for the fatal Friday night, including his intention to enter a sorority house and kill women he felt rejected by; when no one answered his knock, he shot people outside instead. GoogleGoogle-owned YouTube removed the video because it violated the site’s Community Guidelines by containing a threat of violence. However YouTube left up over a dozen of Rodger’s other videos — in which he wanders Santa Barbara alone, complaining about life’s unfairness, his loneliness, and frustration that girls don’t want him, often while sitting at the wheel of his BMW. The videos had garnered hundreds of thousands of views and hundreds of comments from people debating Rodger’s actions. On Tuesday morning, they finally came down but it was not YouTube’s decision to do so.
Elliot Rodger’s YouTube videos are now private. They racked up hundreds of thousands of views over the weekend.
YouTube made clear over the weekend that the rest of the videos failed to violate their guidelines, not containing nudity, violence, harassment, stalking or threats, but rather simple anger, self-loathing and self-pity. The fact that the man expressing them is now a dead serial killer didn’t affect his right to free expression. “As YouTube is a place where people come for information, where content is posted in a news context it will be allowed to stay on the site,” YouTube said in a statement.
However, a YouTube account for a deceased person can be taken down by a family member. Rodger’s profile is still up on YouTube, showing the videos he liked and favorited, but the videos he uploaded have all been made private and are no longer viewable. This will likely only partially eliminate them from the Web, as people probably copied and mirrored them, as was done to his original “Retribution” video which is viewable on many news websites. Removed along with the videos were the conversations they had started. As Mashable notes, the videos were one of the Internet battlegrounds for people arguing over who and what are to blame for Rodger’s actions: men’s rights, shoddy gun control, poor mental health treatment, policing failures, familial neglect, failure to teach boys “game…” I think there are no easy answers and that the rush to claim his actions for a cause is ugly.
I’ve reached out to the family’s lawyer, Alan Schifman, to confirm the family did take the videos down. It’s not the only Internet footprint to disappear. Bodybuilding.com, a forum to which Rodger had gone to complain about women (often challenged by other users when he did) , has deleted his account as well as the threads he commented on. And PUAHate.com — an anti-pick-up-artist site — which Rodger said in his autobiography “confirmed his theories about women being wicked and degenerate” has gone offline completely. His Facebook profile isn’t going anywhere though. Facebook says the account has been memorialized or frozen as it was at his death, which anyone can request with a link to a news article about someone’s death. A spokesperson noted that any “verified immediate family members can request the removal of a loved one’s account,” which seems like a hint to Rodger’s family that the site would like them to do that.
And so Rodger is slowly disappearing from the Internet. One of the YouTube videos he posted — “Why don’t girls like me?” — was “cringe”-worthy enough (in the site’s terms) that someone submitted it to Reddit a week ago. “If this isn’t a troll, then I bet we find out this guy is a serial killer,” wrote one ominously-prescient commenter. In fact, Rodger was visited by police in April after someone reported the videos. He reassured them he was fine, though noted in his autobiography that it “would have ended everything” if they had searched his room when they came to his apartment — which presumably contained the weapons he used to stab his roommates to death and shoot people.
Provided from: Forbes.