Making sense of murder: Characterizing stories in social media groups

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Social media platforms evolved into significant arenas for comprehending crises, hardships, violence, and murder. This paper contributes to the discourse within the intersection of social media and crime by delving into the narratives through which people pour meaning online into tragedies with personal significance. When people experience life-changing events, some go through a process of “sense-making” to fully understand the events and their implications, and reach closure. Processes of “sense-making” become increasingly public and collaborative through stories people tell on social media. Still, a dearth of literature exists that systematically examines these stories as conduits for infusing meaning into tragedies. This article bridges this gap by analyzing the narratives emanating from Facebook groups commemorating Tair Rada and advocating for justice for Roman Zadorov, who was convicted with her murder. These narratives not only challenge Zadorov’s culpability but also recount the sequence of events leading to the tragedy. Furthermore, they delve into the identity and motivations of the perpetrator(s), resuscitating neglected lines of police investigation and occasionally introducing alternative narratives. To establish their narratives’ credibility, authors employ a range of strategies such as integrating source materials, employing categorical language, and cultivating an atmosphere of personal witnessing or knowledge acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1708-1719
Number of pages12
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • obstruction of justice groups
  • sense-making
  • social media
  • storytelling


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