The recent mass shootings in the United States were widely covered by the media. It isn't a new observation that the extensive coverage of such events aid in the popularization of the killer and also benefit any possible political agenda that they may have had. In fact, in many cases, these benefits are likely to be the primary motivating factor for the shooting.

With that in mind, it seems obvious that a possible preventative measure is to limit the coverage of such events, at least to the extent that the shooter and their message isn't popularized and widely distributed and given the attention that the shooter clearly wants. Yet, this doesn't happen. Instead, the shooter's name and face is widely distributed, their opinions on Facebook or Twitter are detailed, and their manifests are put on a nice PDF and distributed to anybody who wants to read it.

Are there any ways in which one can regulate such behavior by the media (or anybody else, e.g. social media users) under the pretense of some sort of censorship law?

Are any politicians or parties pushing for such ideas? Does such regulation exist in other countries?

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    One of the big problems with this idea isn't simply that it is prohibited by the US constitution, or that it restricts people's freedom of speech, or that it's easily exploited to limit beneficial ideas (for instance, Trump would love the power to target anyone saying that his rhetoric contributed to the shooting). It's that it's often less effective than it seems. For example. in Germany, it's completely illegal to sell Mein Kampf - and yet Germany has many neo-Nazis and other far-right groups, who've had no trouble reading it anyway. – Obie 2.0 Aug 5 '19 at 9:59
  • I've heard suggestions that responsible news organizations could choose to self censor in this regard by reporting the details as usual, but anonomizing the shooter's identity, ideally in a manner that humiliates or otherwise discourages this type of popularizing (like providing the shooter an alias like "Murderer McCoward"). The problem is that this would require coordination among news outlets to not only all agree to use an alias, but quite possibly to use the same alias in order to allow coverage from different sources to remain informative to the public. – cpcodes Aug 5 '19 at 18:45
  • And, having written that, it would also require the nicknames to not potentially imply association with an ethnic group that the shooter was not a member of (such as the Irish or Scottish as the use of "Mc" or "Mac" might possibly associate). In short, some sort of standard like that of Hurricane names would need to be established and agreed to. – cpcodes Aug 5 '19 at 18:49

In the United States, such a regulation would be prevented by the first amendment.

Some other countries have rules for a sub judice situation which basically means a matter under investigation by a court.

In England and Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Canada, Sri Lanka, and Israel it is generally considered inappropriate to comment publicly on cases sub judice, which can be an offence in itself, leading to contempt of court proceedings. This is particularly true in criminal cases, where publicly discussing cases sub judice may constitute interference with due process.

Countries like China can censor more aggressively, whether in this kind of situation or a number of others.


Many countries have formal or informal ways to regulate the traditional media. This includes industry self-regulation like the Hays Code in the US during the last century, or laws like the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act.

There are plenty of countries with similar regulations, including agreements not to mention suicides to prevent copycats, and rules against naming suspects, unless they are already famous in their own right (and sometimes not even then).

But the nature of news media is changing, and companies like Twitter or Facebook do not fit the traditional definition of news media. They do not create the user-generated content, but they decide to rank and promote it based on their algorithms. One could argue that that means they're news media and not telecommunications, and that they are responsible for the stories they push.

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