Legal implications surrounding social media posts of Utica homicide

Local News

UTICA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The images of 17-year-old Bianca Devins’ body have been posted all over the web, likely to be screenshotted and shared, forever.

And while Facebook and other outlets are doing their best to control their platforms, the first amendment allows things like this to exist.

“These kinds of images, the after-image of a very violent crime, are not something the government can limit and prevent being posted,” said Scott Malouf a social media attorney, for the Law Office of Scott Malouf.

There are exceptions like child pornography, but sites like Discord, where the pictures first showed up, aren’t responsible. An ugly online community is now surfacing, some people making fake accounts, even pretending to be the Devins’ family to get donations on GoFundMe.

“That is different, that’s not speech that’s an activity, that’s fraudulent behavior and that, the government can step in and look at regulating,” Malouf said.

A dark side to the web, shocking for some to see what’s really out there.

“Like anything, it’s a reflection of who we are as people. We use cars, sometimes people speed, sometimes people drive to the hospital, sometimes people use them appropriately. Like any other tool, its got good and its got bad,” Malouf said.

The Devins’ family and all who knew Bianca are now left reliving their worst nightmare.

“It’s really difficult to undo those kinds of things. But you feel for the family and there’s nothing that any of us can do that’s going to replace this daughter so, I mean it’s a real challenge,” Malouf said.

A public wake will be held for Devins Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the church of our Lady of Lourdes on Genesee Street in Utica.

A public funeral will follow on Friday at one p-m at the church. Burial will be at Forest Hill Cemetery.


For more local news, follow Julia LeBlanc on Twitter @JuliaLeBlancNC9

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