Seventeen-year-old Bianca Devins was brutally murdered with the photographs shared on Instagram hours before they were officially removed by the platform. This disgraceful act robbed the teen of her dignity and only added to the distress of her family. Why isn't serious action being taken to stop this from happening again, asks Jennifer McShane
There was no stopping them: images of the body of 17-year-old social media personality Bianca Michelle Devins, brutally murdered; her body under a green tarp in upstate New York.
But by then, it was too late. The delay in action means the photographs are still out there. In an impassioned plea on Facebook, Bianca Devins’ stepmother Kaleigh Nicole Rimmer urged people to stop sharing gruesome photos of her stepdaughter on social media.
She said it was "sickening" that the photos were still being shared and for the respect of Bianca and her family, implored people to report the photos and instead share,"what a beautiful person she was."
"I have seen the pictures. I will FORVER have those images in my mind when I think of her. When I close my eyes, those images haunt me," she wrote.
"Bianca was a lot of things to so many people. She was young and beautiful and so full of life. She had been through hell and back conquering her own mental illness and she won... even in her deepest, darkest, lowest points, she somehow managed to help so many people who were battling their own demons."
According to HuffPost, Devins had recently graduated and was set to attend college, where she planned to study psychology; ultimately her family said she "was a kind and beautiful soul" who wanted to help adolescents with mental health issues she struggled with herself.
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Failure to act
The photographs were taken by her 21-year-old alleged murderer, a man named Brandon Andrew Clark. Police say he had been "dating" the teen but conflicting reports say it was something casual and that all Clark was controlling, and wanted was to "have [Bianca] all to himself."
However, Devins’s sister, Olivia, according to The Cut, said that Clark was more than just an “internet boyfriend” to Devin — he was a “close family friend,” and, one they “trusted so much.”
He now faces a second-degree murder charge. Gruesome pictures posted to Clark’s Instagram account on Sunday showed Biana's corpse and the caption, “I’m sorry Bianca.”
In the time leading up to the killing, The New York Times reported Clark had also posted a photo from inside a car with the caption, “Here comes Hell. It’s redemption, right?”
A spokeswoman for Instagram said in a statement: “Our thoughts go out to those affected by this tragic event. We are taking every measure to remove this content from our platforms,” but they have come under fire for allowing the images to circulate - and Clark's Instagram account to remain active - for hours before they started to remove them.
Their failure to act has resulted in a lack of dignity for a young girl who was brutally taken away from her family and friends.
With the images still being shared, how horrific does an act have to be before appropriate action is taken? "Taking every measure" to remove the photos has resulted in her families' last images of their daughter and sister tainted forever.
The hashtag #RIPBianca was started in response as those who knew her share their favourite images and memories of her.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, her family said, “Bianca, age 17, was a talented artist, a loving sister, daughter, and cousin, and a wonderful young girl taken from us all too soon. Bianca’s smile brightened our lives. She will always be remembered as our Princess.” Her family has also set up a scholarship fund in her name to raise money for “students pursuing a degree in psychology so they can continue Bianca’s dream to help adolescents with mental illness.”
Main photograph: @escty