Some question ‘auto play’ function on social media after graphic video of shooting surfaced

This undated photo provided by WDBJ-TV, in Roanoke, Va., shows station reporter Alison Parker, left, and cameraman Adam Ward. Ward and Parker were fatally shot on-air Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, by a former staffer in Moneta, Va. (WDBJ-TV via AP)

ROANOKE, Va. (MEDIA GENERAL) — The videos were difficult to watch and as some found out, probably just as difficult to avoid if you turned to social media yesterday following the murder of two journalists live on air.

Not long after Alison Parker and Adam Ward were killed, the shooter posted videos online of himself firing his weapon at the two while they were live.

The videos have since been taken down from several social media sites, but many have complained about the auto-play feature that forces you to watch a video, as soon as you scroll down the screen.

Bereavement specialists say the public nature of the crimes can make matters worse for those trying to grieve.

“There’s always elements of shock and disbelief in any grief process. When it’s a violent situation like this was, that can be intensified. So we always encourage people to surround yourselves with supportive and loving family and friends and to be able to visualize some of the things that you’re thinking,” said Kathryn Mills, Bereavement Specialist with Hospice of North Iowa.

Mills says with our busy schedules, we can also be comforted by those friends and family through social media.

A trend she says may not have the same effect, but can be more convenient.

In speaking with Mills she explains it’s common to see people grieve for those who they’ve never met especially in situations where we may witness the tragedy ourselves.

“Especially with sudden and traumatic deaths, our sense of safety is shaken and the assumptions we have about the world around us are turned upside down. So it takes a little while to feel like we do live in a safe place that these are not common things that happen. It’s hard to think that way sometimes when we see so much of the violence,” said Mills.

On most social media sites, the auto-play function is optional and can be turned off in your personal settings. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s