This Is How You Build a Dead Girl Narrative in Real Time

This Is How You Build a Dead Girl Narrative in Real Time
Screenshot:NBC News

In the early hours of Sunday morning 17-year-old Bianca Devins, an aspiring young artist and recent high-school graduate, was murdered by Brandon Clark, a young man she had been dating. The New York Times reports that police were notified of her death after Clark posted images of her body to Instagram, which then made their way to Discord and proliferated across Instagram and 4chan, even after the images expired from Clark’s account.

But graphic images from the murder were not the only concerning evidence spreading across the internet. As the images made their way online, speculation emerged in 4chan forums about the nature of Devins and Clark’s relationship, and which depicted Devins as a manipulative young woman who mistreated Clark and flirted with followers. The two went to a concert the night before the murder and reportedly had an argument at the venue, the nature of which remains officially unconfirmed. But Rolling Stone reporter Ej Dickson, in speaking with friends of Devins, tweeted that Clark murdered her “because she flirted with another guy in front of him at a concert,” though there is little to confirm that even in Dickson’s own report.

Beyond a jump to conclude that Devins murder was the result of her flirting, numerous reports stress the fact that Devins met Clark online, as if meeting anyone online is nefarious behavior for a 17-year-old girl. In reality, the two had met each other’s families, the New York Times reported. Buzzfeed describes Devins as an “e-girl” and her murderer a “low-level influencer,” as if these labels have anything to do with the crime, or that “e-girl” says anything about what kind of person Devins was. Reports cited completely different following numbers for her accounts, which was at one point just 2,000 followers and grew to more than 100,000 in the aftermath of her death, thus inflating her popularity as a social media star in the eyes of different outlets. An early popular twitter thread rife with misinformation and asides like “if you’re an e-girl … just be careful, okay? Seriously,” claimed that Clark was an “incel omega orbiter from her Discord” who tracked Devins down at a concert, and while Clark did reportedly used the MRA term “orbit” on Discord, police have insisted this was not a stalking incident.

This is how you build a dead girl narrative in real time. To many outlets, Devins was simply an “e-girl,” completely dehumanized by the term into an avatar millions could project onto, that she was a withholding flirt, an influencer, some girl who spent so much time online she’d meet strangers online, and that her full humanity did not matter.

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