Friday afternoon, right before someone opened fire on shoppers at a Virginia mall, a posting appeared on the 4chan “Random” message board. It began with the eerie message, “My name is neil Macinnis and I go to new river community college in Christiansburg Virgina. 10 minutes away from Virginia tech. I’m gonna give y’all the details because the news never gets it right.”
He then went on to detail the type of shotgun and bullets he would use, and admitted that he thought “an heroing” (popular 4chan slang term for suicide) would not be necessary. Fortunately, for the future of 4chan, several people asked for further details and took screen grabs of the posting, allegedly on the off chance the boy was serious and the finer details could be instrumental in stopping a tragedy.
Unfortunately, a few minutes later, a poster returned to 4chan with the cry of “shots fired!” Two women were injured in the mall assault, and though the shooter was subdued, there have not yet been confirmed reports of whether the person named in the 4chan posting was actually the gunman.
Thankfully, there have not been any casualties in this incident (at the time of posting), but hopefully this attack serves as a reminder that society needs to look out for itself, even on social media.
It’s better to err on the side of caution when someone posts a cry for attention or help.