Cali Swag District member M-Bone was gunned down in cold blood late Sunday night in what originally appeared to be a random drive-by shooting. Now rumor has it that the killing could've been the result of a personal rift with a jealous neighbor that escalated on the social media platform Twitter.
A woman who claims to be the girlfriend of the late rapper reportedly told TMZ that a man living in the complex where the couple resided was openly hostile toward Bone, expressing much of his anger through tweets directed at the artist. If the rumors turn out to be true and the jealous neighbor is fingered as the shooter, M-Bone could be the first rapper in history to be killed because of Twitter beef, a startlingly strong statement in considering the impact Twitter has made on hip hop in the last five years.
Along with becoming an outlet for artists and fans to connect musically, Twitter also provides fans a more personal (be it via the Internet) interaction with the artists they love. Fans are afforded one on one time with their music idols and thus changing the dynamic of the artist fan relationship. With that good comes the bad. Artists are now more open to criticism from their admirers and critics alike. Sometimes that leads to very nasty things being said on both sides.
A Twitter fight resulting in a murder might initially sound far-fetched but that's only because e-thugs have always been deemed as harmless. Envisioned as young tech geeks hiding behind their keyboards and the hateful statements they hurl, these assailants are rarely caught or taken to task for their derogatory statements or threats. However, Twitter takes fans (and foes alike) out of the shadows of anonymity and gives them a medium to directly contact an artist who can, in turn, choose to respond—a dangerous thing if you think about how easily an Internet argument can escalate because it's not only real but it's public. Open threats, taunting and general trash talk may be taken lightly when exchanged over a random message board but they're all grounds for real life retaliation when it's publicly directed at someone. Tragically, in this case it seems, anything M-Bone may have said to further agitate the openly hostile person in question may have spelled his demise.
And this wouldn't be the only current cast that exposes the dangers of Twitter. Consider Odd Future.
The Cali rap collective rose to notoriety posting striking videos laced with violent and often-times misogynistic lyrics onto the net. They rant endlessly in stream-of-consciousness style on their Twitter pages and have opened their world to their Tumblr followers. The rap collective is now starting to acknowledge the dangers of the fever pitch they've started. Just yesterday The New Yorker released an article featuring a statement from inactive Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt, who is currently attending boarding school in Samoa, calling for an end to the 'Free Earl' movement fans have latched onto.
"Initially I was pleased that all these people claimed that they wanted me released because I thought that translated into 'they care,'" Earl wrote. "So time progresses and the fan base gets bigger and the 'Free Earl' chants get louder but now with the 'Free Earl' chants come a barely indirect 'Fuck Earl's Mom' and in the blink of an eye my worry changes from 'will there still be this hype when I get back' to 'Oh shit I just inspired a widespread movement of people who are dedicated to the downfall of my mom. The only thing I need as of right now is space. I've still got work to do and don't need the additional stress of fearing for my family's physical well-being. Space means no more 'Free Earl.'"
The dangers of Twitter don't end at rap beef. Tennis star Serena Williams was recently criticized for posting a racy Twitpic of herself just weeks after her stalker was apprehended while trying to scale the wall of her Miami home. The trespasser confessed to police officers that he used Twitter to track her whereabouts.
Indeed the social medium has created a dangerous brand of transparency for those in the public eye and we can only watch how this develops in the months and years to come. For now, celebs should be mindful of their words and actions.