Social media changing way major events are seen and learned about

A still image from Lavish Reynolds' Facebook Live post, showing the aftermath of when a police officer shot and killed her boyfriend Philando Castile in a St. Paul, Minnesota suburb this week.

Two recent police shootings, and the ambush of police officers in Dallas this week, have highlighted the role of social media in major news events.

"Just holding a phone up like this changes the game," said Kent Lewis, owner of Anvil Media, a social media marketing firm based in Portland.

When a police officer shot and killed Philando Castile in a St. Paul, Minnesota suburb this week, Castile's girlfriend immediately took to Facebook Live to broadcast the aftermath. The ambush of Dallas police officers was also broadcast by at least one person on Facebook Live.

"It's kind of like a war zone report from an unqualified, or arguably untrained but maybe not unqualified person," said Lewis.

That kind of first-person reporting is now more common than ever. The shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana this week was captured on camera by two different people holding cellphones. The video spread quickly on many social media platforms.

Lewis argues widespread use of cellphone cameras is a good thing, but that everyone needs to watch what they capture with a careful eye.

"It tells a story, but it may not tell the whole story," Lewis said. "There's a quite a bit of context there but if you don't see what led up to the shooting, you're missing a critical part of the context."

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