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Facebook’s alleged revenue for 2009 might come as a colossal relief to those managing the company’s public relations- not least of all because the online giant’s reputation has remained largely unharmed by a spate of murders linked intimately to the Facebook brand name.

The latest series of legal proceedings to rely on evidence sourced from Facebook accounts concluded June 22 in Southwark crown court in London, reports The Guardian.

A 16 year-old boy was sentenced to a minimum of 14 years behind bars for fatally stabbing former best friend, Salum Kombo.

The deceased was claimed to have challenged his friend’s credibility online by calling him a “pussy.”

A series of text tirades on Facebook then led to a physical encounter in a nearby suburb where the teen was reportedly able to redeem his “loss of face” by stabbing Kombo in the chest.

Facebook did not comment on the verdict, which is not surprising given that so long as the company has cooperated with authorities in the past, little scrutiny has been thrown its way.

What remains fascinating about a situation in which Facebook avoids criticism, is that society appears to interpret these murder cases in a similar way that it accepts social media as ‘an institution’ rather than as the extremely lucrative business model that it is.

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Negative attention is now more than ever directed towards the authorities that are unable to keep track of modern technology and the crimes unfolding within its parameters, because society accepts the place of new platforms for communication and conflict.

It remains to be seen amidst the anger stemming from media commentators, family groups and victims’ families, if Facebook’s responsibility to protect its users is underestimated.

As this new variety of homicide becomes increasingly recurrent and commonplace, social media platforms are gradually disappearing from the critical focus of press coverage related to such incidences of homicide.

Last year Detroit authorities reportedly ignored warnings from Youtube users concerned about some aggressive video comments targeted at fellow user, Asia McGowan.

Anthony Powell, the man behind those comments, eventually murdered McGowan and committed suicide.

In Australia, sex predators have used pseudo identities on Facebook to lure young girls.

In two separate incidences during the last six months, Nona Belomesoff and Ashleigh Hall were found raped and murdered.

The most recent murder case linked to Facebook unfolded Father’s Day this year in Watervliet, New York, where Bryan Ashline posted a cryptic ’status update’ before murdering his 3 month-old-son and committing suicide.

His final words appeared on Facebook as, “on my way to get my spirit broken.”

Facebook’s 400 million-strong user database has continued to produce huge advertising revenues for the company.

Last year it avoided the repercussions of a user backlash that opposed the continual alteration of account privacy settings.

Facebook is expected to record profits for 2009 of between $500 and $800 million.


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