You're Viewing the Archives
Return to IVN's Frontpage

The Internet Reacts to Lion Killer -- And Probably Ruins His Life

by Jane Susskind, published

The recent killing of the beloved lion Cecil in Zimbabwe by American dentist Walter J. Palmer has sparked an uprising on social media, with renewed calls to ban trophy hunting from people across the globe. 

If you've been on Twitter for more than 30 seconds over the last couple of days, it’s almost certain you've seen at least one tweet about Cecil. It’s even more likely that the comment spoke negatively about Palmer. 

As a result of the collective and socially-driven hatred toward Palmer, there are over 800,000 - yes, that is almost a million - signatures on an online petition demanding justice for Cecil. 

The Yelp page for Palmer's business is literally obliterated with hate toward him, and even his kittens. 

The negative reviews are multiplying faster than Yelp can delete them, with many users complaining about Yelp's attempt to delete content "not relevant" to the business.

Joseph M writes: "Yelp should not be deleting negative reviews. People are sharing information about this practitioner which is useful to prospective clients. This is the entire premise of Yelp - people helping other people to make educated decisions about where to shop, eat, stay and purchase goods and services. In this case, people are letting other people know that the business owner is a someone who poaches wild animals."

On Facebook, people are just as mad, with the "Shame Lion Killer Dr Walter Palmer and River Bluff Dental" Facebook Page receiving more than 24,000 likes in one day.

If this happened 20 years ago, no one would know about his involvement in the lion's death unless Palmer publicly told them. No one outside of his town would know about it unless Palmer advertised it on TV, newspapers, or in a magazine. In other words, in a world without the Internet, Palmer would have control over who knew about his hunt.

Walter Palmer, who just days ago exerted his own power over Cecil, is now left powerless. The Internet has stripped him of his power to control the message, and he is now experiencing the ever-fierce wrath of the Internet. They decide whether or not a story is worth reading, worth commenting on, or worth sharing with their friends. They control the message.

In an age of social media, the power lies with the masses.

Photo Credit: Brent Staplekamp

About the Author