Osterman Research Blog

Facebook and Psychopaths
August 8, 2012, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A psychopath is defined as “a person with a psychopathic  personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.”

There was an interesting article in Der Taggespeigel (The Examiner) that claims those who do not have a Facebook account might be psychopaths.  As “evidence” of this assertion, that article points out that mass murderers James Holmes and Anders Behring Breivik did not have Facebook profiles.  The article goes on to say that some employers are considering a candidate’s lack of a Facebook account as a detriment to their being hired.  Moreover, the gist of the article is that because Facebook is the new mode of finding and developing friendships, not having a Facebook account must indicate lack of social skills, at best; and at worst a serious predilection toward violence.  Assuming that the article was not written tongue-in-cheek, I thought I’d check to see if their assertions had some basis in fact.  Here’s what I found:

  • A USA Today article from May 2012 discusses the fact that there are at least 19 child pornography groups and a larger number of predator profiles on Facebook.
  • In October 2011, a man in New Jersey was arrested after using Facebook to burglarize the home of a vacationing ‘friend’.
  • In July 2011, a New Jersey man was charged with the sexual assault of two teenagers he met on Facebook.
  • In July 2011, a 20-year old pedophile in Britain was sentenced to 10 years in prison after using Facebook to lure more than 139 young girls who he then sexually abused.
  • In May 2010, an Australian man created a bogus Facebook account and used it to lure a teenage girl to her death.
  • In 2008 and 2009, a 41-year old Singaporean serial rapist used a Facebook dating app to meet his victims.

Four questions I take away from this:

  • Are any of these crimes the fault of Facebook?  Of course not!
  • Is the individual who prefers to nurture friendships over a cup of coffee or a beer after work instead of via Facebook some sort of a nutjob?  Nope.
  • Does Der Taggespeigel have a fact-checking department?  Not sure.
  • Did Der Taggespeigel really mean this article to be a satire?  Not sure about that either.

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