Reporters looking into the case of a serial killer in the Northeast have hit upon what they consider a cool angle -- he's the Craigslist killer.
As though the victims of the Green River killer should have just avoided water.
To the right is a still photo of a person of interest in the case, taken from a police-released video and published online at WBZ-TV in Boston. Look, he's holding what looks like an iPhone. Should we call him the iPhone killer?
As with Gary Ridgway, convicted in the Green River murders, this killer is pursuing women he believes to be prostitutes. He seeks out ads for massage therapy, which he probably takes to mean sexual services, engages the women and then, in the intimacy of their workplace, attacks them.
This M.O. -- women out at night are bad and I must revenge -- is as old as the Jack the Ripper case. Older. The only reason Craigslist enters into this at all is that the killer is using that site to search for victims. If newspapers were still big would you call him the Boston Globe killer?
Yet now a Google search finds 625,000 hits for "Craigslist Killer," including 785 news stories.
Admittedly not all relate to the same case. A 20-year old man in Minnesota lured women to his home with a phony Craigslist ad and got life without parole. He was also called the Craigslist Killer. Think the Minnesota killer should sue this one for copyright violation?
The lesson here is not don't use the online world. It's not that you should put down your iPhone, your Android phone, your cellphone and go hide under your bed. Just be careful.
The lesson is as old as time. There are scary people out there and if you look for them you might find one. By calling this one the Craigslist killer old media is attacking the whole online world and I believe it's past time we pushed back on that.
UPDATE: What stimulated this post was C|Net's own Gordon Haff, writing on how open source misperceptions live on despite changing reality. They persist due to repetition. Truth needs to put its shoes on.