Sunday 18 August 2019

Japan reviews Twitter regulations after police claim serial killer used social media app to lure victims

Takahiro Shiraishi, dubbed the
Takahiro Shiraishi, dubbed the "Twitter killer". Photo: Screengrab Tokyo News

Mary McDonnell

A suspected serial killer who reportedly lured victims to their deaths by trawling Twitter for suicidal posts has confessed to killing nine people, including three high school girls.

Takahiro Shiraishi, dubbed the "Twitter killer", allegedly chose victims – nine young people aged 15 to 26 - who used hashtags that indicated they were suicidal or depressed.

The 27-year-old’s profile stated: “I want to help people who are really in pain. Please DM [direct message] me anytime.”

The New York Times reported that police found nine dismembered bodies and coolers that contained heads covered in cat litter in the suspected killer’s apartment in Japan last month.

Japan’s government has reportedly considered tightening regulations to restrict suicidal posts in the wake of the gruesome discovery.

Shiraishi was apprehended during a police investigation into the disappearance of a 23-year-old woman.

She had reportedly tweeted: “I’m looking for someone to die with me”, prompting the suspected killer to lure her to her death. He reportedly told her he could help her die or even die with her.

News of the gruesome deaths has rocked Japan which has the third-highest suicide rate of the world’s richest countries - but one of the lowest murder rates in the world by contrast.

Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey told Japan's national public broadcasting network, NHK that he was “extremely sad” the social network was used to track down vulnerable victims.

He told the network: “We need to take on a responsibility to make sure that our tool is being used in positive and healthy ways.”

Twitter reportedly changed its policy just four days after Shiraishi’s arrest but told the LA Times they did not rewrite a section of their guidelines because of the case.

In a statement released to the newspaper, the company said: “We did not rewrite the section on suicide and self-harm because of this case, but we would like to avoid these types of cases from happening.”

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