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Death by Social Media

Living on an island paradise off Cancun, Renee Wathelet blogged and tweeted to her friends back in Montreal that she wanted to become a social media consultant.  Renee was a featured blogger at the French language version of Socialmediatoday, Socialmediaactualites. A few days ago Renee was found murdered in her seaside condo. Her throat was slashed and her body had been stabbed several times.

Montreal journalist Martin Lessard, a SMT community member, wrote an article on Renee that has been published over on version francais.   The Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) and the Toronto Sun, among others, also offer content.

The Wathelet affair is a grim reminder to all of what can happen when social media and its lifestyle are no longer ensconced in the relative security offered by cyberspace.  It's also a reminder of how individuals need to be vigilant about privacy and protecting their personal information.  On that theme, the fabled Cluetrain Manifesto offers few if any clues. 

US president Barack Obama recently told kids to watch what they say about themselves on Facebook and You Tube, with good reason. But that's all he did.

Canada has done more. When Canada's Privacy Commission challenged Facebook's new end user agreement Facebook dismissed the charges as lacking legal grounds.  But the privacy commissioner continued to prosecute and Facebook has agreed to make changes. Facebook says that the changes relating to privacy and ambiguous language that will apply in Canada will go global… sometime in the future.

Social media has reduced the barriers to "connection" and because it is so self-absorbing and addictive, it is easy to forget that not all online "friends" make good real world friends.  The low pain threshold and drama that move the hit counters are reinforced by data mining and social media monitoring services that attempt to link ROI with reward words, feel good words and hurt words.  But that ancient keyword technology- first developed back when Gene Hackman was making The French Connection- just reflects what machines think people feel... if social media is to survive as a player in the new digital economy its people need to toughen up. 

The take away on all this, particularly for those bent on living their dream, is that at age 60, Renee Wathelet should have been more circumspect when she developed an online relationship with a 24-year-old male, in Mexico.  We should all be  careful.


Join The Conversation

  • AaronWagner7000's picture
    Sep 24 Posted 7 years ago AaronWagner7000 This article has good info in it, but the title should really be changed. It was not social media that killed her. It was an evil human being. He may have used social media as a tool to find her and kill her, but nonetheless, social media didn't kill her.

    It is true, though, that people DO oftentimes need to be more careful about what they post on social communities.



  • Sep 20 Posted 7 years ago RickReno (not verified) Hi Shonda, there is nothing irresponsible here other than what your comment reflects. If you take the time to carefuly read the source material that is hyperlinked in my post and that of Montreal journalist Martin Lessard, and other material one can find doing keyword searches, you will see the connections.  As for your fulminations about urban myth, check out Toronto Sun... "Blog Friend Held In Woman's Murder." 

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