Friday, August 24, 2012

Instagram scores major news hit in Empire State Building shootings

Twitter has long been a source for on-the-scene reporting of live news events. For example, during the Osama bin Laden raid in 2011, two people were unknowingly live-tweeting about it.

Text is one thing, though, but nothing beats visual, and thus we have the stampede of interest over one of the newer social media services, Instagram, and a photo showing a graphic image from the Empire State Building shootings that took place on Friday morning.

Instagram, of course, is the photo sharing service that took the world by storm, starting first on iOS and then on Android. In April, the start-up was acquired by Facebook.

On Friday, Jeffrey Johnson, 58, a laid-off former contractor at Hazan Imports Corp., fatally shot Steven Ercolino, 41, an executive at the company. Johnson was shot and killed by police.

In addition to the two deaths, nine others were wounded.

A photo posted to an Instagram account belonging to a user with the handle mr_mookie, an eyewitness, became big news as it showed shooting victim Robert Asika lying on a curb, being tended to by passersby.

Asika had been shot in the right arm. He said he was "100 percent positive" that a police officer had shot him. He also said he saw the suspect fire his gun at the officers.

The caption of the photo made news, too. It was rather flippant, particularly in the wake of the tragedy: "They shoot, aw made you look! No really tho. Dude got popped!"

That comment got mr_mookie, who is actually freelance photographer Muhammad Malik (Facebook page), the wrath of the Internet.

It wasn't just about the caption, though. It was also about selling the photo for some major bling, as he noted on his Facebook page. In response to the criticism, he posted the following on Facebook.

"Let's be clear everyone, I didn't shoot anyone, I just took a photo, don't hate me, hate the actions that caused me to get a picture like that. It's cameras that allow all of us to see what's going on in parts that we would never venture into or otherwise wouldn't think twice about. And remember, If you see something, take a photo'"

Additionally, according to Malik, he never did follow up on the money he was offered. It was never about the money, he said.

So, did Malik deserve all the flak he received? He even, he said on his Facebook page, received death threats. Share your views in the comments section.

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