LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The public’s reaction to Thursday night’s strip shooting was something experts call – priming effect. 8 News Now spoke to a UNLV psychologist about this and how dangerous it can be because of social media.
“As human beings, we are social creatures.”
UNLV Associate Professor Stephen Benning said Thursday night’s shooting on the Las Vegas strip caused an uproar on social media, however some videos showed the crowds more calm than usual.
“It’s important that in these kinds of situations to minimize the amount of panic postings people might do,” said Benning.
Benning said part of the reason why people didn’t seem to panic in the Mirage shooting was because of the police’s swift presence and reassuring public safety.
He said social media has given a digital microphone to everyone and that platform comes with a moral responsibility. It’s the exposure to a certain event without any awareness of the connection is called priming effect.
“It may be important for people with large followings like social media influencers to be careful about the information they deciminate immediatly.”
Before posting, Benning said to ask around if law enforcement is present and what is known about the situation. Live streaming could be dangerous because it raises concern and fear to the viewer.
For example, this case that happened in June where Metro police said Bradley Thompson was arrested for throwing rocks through glass at the MGM Grand, which caused crowds on the strip to panic.
“There is the potential for that to have a wide range of viewers but that may come at the cost of frightening a large number of people,” said Benning.
Benning adds that as technology continues, we have turned into the espionage agent of the 70’s dream where information is freely available from many sources.
Sorting through it, he said, is the challenge.