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Illustrated Report: How Gun Violence Goes Viral
A digital drawing, made with black pencil and red and neon-blue gouache, shows a teenager standing in the center. The figure’s human head has been replaced with a red rose, which is losing its petals. The rose petals fall around the figure with drops of water, symbolizing tears. The figure’s body is half within a broken smartphone, the frame of which is colored the same red as the rose. In the background, smaller red cellphones are aligned horizontally. Their screens show a combination of guns, a happy human teen with a friend, and a memorial of the same teen. Behind everything, the base background is black and ominous.
(Oona Tempest/KFF Health News)

Illustrated Report: How Gun Violence Goes Viral

As chatter and images about guns and violence slip into the social media feeds of more teens, viral messages fueled by “likes” can lead to real-world conflict and loss.

This illustrated report has been adapted from a California Healthline article, “‘All We Want Is Revenge’: How Social Media Fuels Gun Violence Among Teens,” by Liz Szabo

A dizzying pattern of repeating cellphones covers the page. On the screen of a phone, text reads: “Tech companies say they try to delete violent content ASAP. But a post can get hundreds of views in minutes. Even critics acknowledge that social media, with its billions of users, is difficult to control. If a company closes accounts, teens just look for ways to open new ones.”

This article was produced by KFF Health News, formerly known as Kaiser Health News (KHN), a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF — the independent source for health policy research, polling, and journalism.