Storify analysis of discourse full assignment Essay Example

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Facebook Killer: The Story of How a Man Shot an Innocent Old Man at Random and Posted the Video on Facebook


This story is about what so far remains one of the most gruesome events ever posted on Facebook; that of the murder of a 74-year old man by a man who was later identified as Steve Stephens in Cleveland, Ohio. Stephens, speaking about an alleged breakup with his girlfriend, Joy Lane, is seen in the video approaching an old man and forcing the old man to say the name Joy Lane repeatedly. The video then shows Stephens point a gun at the head of the hapless man. Moments later, Stephens is seen driving away, admitting that he had committed the murder and that he felt like driving around and picking up more people at random.

Brief Description

The events of that make up this story can be categorized into four classes, based on what was happening at the time and the reaction of the public to the events. Also, the events took place in a chronological order, based on what happened immediately after the murder video clip was uploaded on Facebook Live and what happened thereafter. The four categories are as follows: the main incident in which Stephens confronts and shoots an old man, the uproar that followed when the video showing the murder was uploaded on social media platforms, the police manhunt for Stephens, and Stephens’ suicide when he was cornered by the police.

Media Items

The following are media items depicting the initial incident in which Stephens murdered the hapless old man. Steve then goes ahead to say that he had already murdered other people and that he was planning to kill more. He says that he is mad at his ex-girlfriend, Joy Lane.

Facebook brought down the original video clip and disabled the account. However, the video can still be found on YouTube using this URL link:

The video on YouTube (the URL link above) has been edited to obscure the scene of the actual shooting. However the video shows clearly how Stephens asked the old man, who is identified as Robert Godwin Sr. in this URL link
, to say ‘Joy Lane’ before pointing a gun at the old man’s head.

The concealing of the actual shooting scene in the video that was uploaded on YouTube is in accordance with YouTube’s policy on uploading graphic or violent content. In its policy, YouTube notes that “It’s not okay to post violent or gory content that’s primarily intended to be shocking, sensational or disrespectful”. The URL link to access this policy is Thus, it can be deduced that the person who uploaded the video on YouTube considered this policy.

The following URL links show how various new outlets first broke the news and posted images related to the incident. Heavy in particular is one of the news outlets that carried the story including the raw video of Steve Stephens killing Robert Godwin Sr. The story at
Heavy is titled “Elderly Man Shot & Killed in Cleveland on Facebook Video [GRAPHIC]”. The page also goes further to warn viewers that it contains graphic content, which is the raw video of the shooting by Stephens. The other links are shown below.

The Mercury News gave more details about the shooting and quoted  Cleveland Police Chiefsaying that Stephens was on the run and that “we’re still asking Steve to turn himself in, but if he doesn’t we’ll find him”. This indicates that the police had launched a manhunt for the killer, who also had an option of surrendering himself to the police.

Upon viewing the video of the shooting, there was a massive uproar on various social media platforms. It appears that there was widespread condemnation of the incident, with everyone calling on the police to zero in on the ‘mad gunman’ as soon as possible. Here are URL links to some media items depicting the uproar of the public regarding the incident.

On Twitter, the hash tag, #SteveStephens immediately started trending, with users posting details about the murder and the events that followed.

The focus of the story then changed to a massive police manhunt for the killer. At this stage in the story, the focus was on how news outlets were covering the chase. Many social media users showed massive support for the police, with some even offering to shoot Stephens the moment they sighted him. The CNN reported that the police had offered a reward of $50,000 for anyone with information that would lead to the arrest of the killer. The same story about the $50,000 reward in search for the “Facebook murder suspect” was reported by
The New York Times, the Mirror, and the Independent among other news outlets. Here are other URL links to some of the media items describing the massive police chase and the support that the chase received from the public.

After managing to escape from the police for a few days, Steve Stephens was finally cornered. However, in what turned out to be an anticlimax ending to the tragic story, he committed suicide moments before the police could finally get hold of him after a high speed chase. It is reported that Stephens was cornered by police on patrol after workers at a McDonald’s store recognised him as he attempted to buy fries and chicken nuggets. The following URL links depict how Stephens’ cornering and suicide were reported.

Various users of social media sites reported the suicide or Steve Stephens. Here is an example of a post on Twitter.

Here is another example of a post on Facebook announcing the suicide. It was posted by News Now, an Internet news outlet.

But other users, for example one going by the name Twuan E. Oehlschlagel, cast aspersions on the veracity of the events depicted in the video of the murder.

In the aftermath of the murder and uploading of the murder video on Facebook, the focus turned on Joy Lane, the ex-girlfriend of the now deceased ‘Facebook killer’ and what could be done to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. This is depicted in the following URL links.

On Twitter, people discussed various issues in relation to the shooting incident using #SteveStephens. For instance, some tweets asked about the person who would get the reward money that was to be given to the person with information about the whereabouts of Steve Stephens:

Some people made jokes about Steve Stephens and his character while others cautioned against such jokes:

Another tweet indicated that Facebook was to hire 3000 people to review videos of suicide and crime to prevent an incident such as the Steve Stephens murder video:

Yet another tweet suggested that
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and chairman of Facebook, had vowed to work to avert an occurrence similar to that of “Facebook killer” in reference to Steve Stephens’ murder video. Here is the URL link of the tweet:


In conclusion, the murder of Robert Godwin Sr., which was broadcast on Facebook Live, elicited unprecedented reactions on social media platforms. The consensus among users and commentators was that the police had to move with speed and apprehend Steve Stephens, the killer, before he could kill more people. This was the case although some users attempted to argue that the video was probably a hoax. However, the public then supported the massive manhunt that was launched by the police, who had also offered $50,000 as a reward for any person who would provide information leading to the arrest of the killer. It turns out that the uproar over the killing and the cooperation between the police and the public led to the cornering of the killer since Stephens was spotted by members of the public. Nonetheless, moments before he was captured, Stephens committed suicide. The general reaction was that he had managed to escape justice and that there was a need for the authorities to prevent similar events from happening. After the incident, various social media users discussed a number of issues, including some jokes about Stephens, the reward money, and what Facebook should do to avert the uploading of graphic content on the site.