A promising A-level student was stabbed to death after a quiet house party spiralled out of control when gatecrashers spotted an invite on Facebook. Jay Whiston, 17, collapsed after being stabbed in the stomach during an altercation over a mobile phone at the party in a quiet suburb of Colchester, Essex.
Partygoers described how the well-behaved teenage gathering, at which the host’s parents were present, descended into chaos as a large number of uninvited guests turned up and began to cause trouble.
According to witnesses, Mr Whiston, who lived with his family in Clacton, was stabbed when he attempted to intervene in a row over a mobile phone.
Paramedics, who were called to Marlowe Way in Colchester shortly after 10pm on Saturday evening, rushed Mr Whiston to Colchester General Hospital but he was pronounced a short time later.
Facebook, as Jay’s tragic killing reminds us, is not a virtual Postman Pat who delivers letters, parcels and bills. No, Facebook is like standing in the street, megaphone in hand, yelling your message to neighbours and passers-by. If it is a bit of gossip, be prepared for everyone to spread it. If it is an invitation, be prepared for a mob to turn up.
In other words, no one really can control the website, which can seem like a foreign land to parents who remain uninitiated to its rules. Mike Butcher, the Europe editor of the online publication TechCrunch and a new media expert, explains: “If you create an event page in Facebook, say for a party, you may think this is a private space, but information can spread far wider than you ever intended. There is no control.”
A public place without boundaries, where everyone is linked: good friends with total strangers, drug dealers connected to vulnerable loners, gangs to innocent school children. No wonder alot of parents are now Facebook-wary. Indeed, the parents of Laura Guthercole, who hosted the party that ended so tragically for Jay Whiston, were also cautious and sensible. They stayed in their detached house to supervise proceedings, and Laura had sweetly handwritten notes to neighbours to apologise for any noise – but when 200 people turned up, events spiralled out of their control.
Source: Cristina Odone via Telegraph