Social media’s role in reporting the Copenhagen shootings

Just after the shooting at a free-speech event at a café, officials and reporters tweeted information about what was happening. In the days since, social media has become fertile ground for debate.

When a gunman opened fire on a crowd assembled at a Copenhagen café for an event titled “Art, Blasphemy, and the Freedom of Expression,” attendees at the event immediately began reporting on what was happening via Twitter.

For instance, here’s a very brief report from the French ambassador to Denmark:

Others tweeted photos of the café, which was riddled with bullet holes.

Photos of the alleged shooter, who killed one person and injured three police officers at the cafe, and reportedly killed another person in a second incident, made their way to news sources:

The Copenhagen police tweeted a quick description of the shooter Saturday:

A rough translation of the tweet reads, “The powder keg: looking for witnesses! Getaway car black VW Polo. Call 114. Thank you very much. RT if you would like. #politidk

Police reportedly found and killed the shooter early Sunday.

In the days since the shootings, the debate about free speech that ramped up after the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris has reached an even more intense pitch. A Monday morning Vine of the mayors of the two cities embracing made an even more concrete connection between the attacks.

Event organizers believed the target of the attack on the café was Lars Vilks, a Swedish artist who has published caricatures of Mohammed, including one image of the Muslim prophet as a dog.

Officials have defended free speech in public statements.

“We have tasted the bitter taste of fear and powerlessness that the terrorists want us to experience,” Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said Sunday. She added, “We must insist on acting as we do. Think and talk like we want to. We are who we are.”

Columns such as this one from The Guardian have defended the “right to offend.”

Commentators have expressed similar sentiments on Twitter, albeit in a somewhat more snarky fashion.

Others have openly criticized the police investigation of the shooting:


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