The Idaho Murders: Trial by TikTok

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Sociopolitical Documentary hosted by Zara McDermott, published by BBC in 2024 - English narration

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Image: The-Idaho-Murders-Trial-by-TikTok-Cover.jpg

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When four University of Idaho students were murdered by an unknown attacker in November 2022, Zara McDermott first read about it on social media. The small American college town of Moscow is home to just 25,000 people, most of them students, and hasn't seen a homicide in seven years. For six weeks, the police said they had no suspects, no motive, no weapon, and had found no signs of forced entry into the house.

The students, Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Madison Mogen, had all been stabbed to death. Zara, like millions of people all over the world, became obsessed with the case and scoured social media looking for clues and theories as to what happened; as days turned in to weeks, global interest in the case snowballed, racking up nearly two billion views on TikTok worldwide.

As the weeks passed, local police continued to tell the public there were no suspects, and true crime sleuths and internet detectives started digging for information, posting their theories online. As more details emerged of the victims' last movements, internet speculation ramped up, even pointing the finger at other students and residents in the town, accusing them of being the murderer and releasing private information about them onto the internet. The harassment that ensued forced those who were accused into hiding. Eventually, police were forced to publicly respond to the social media rumours to try and stop the harassment of individuals who had been targeted by the true crime community.

Zara heads to Moscow Idaho to find out how much of what she saw online was even real, and how much was pure speculation. She meets the true crime sleuths making thousands of hours of social media content on this case to find out why they felt the need to post their own interpretation, and why people were so keen to listen to them rather than the network news or the police. Zara also speaks to those who were affected by the rumours spread online and sees the impact this social media storm has had, leading her to question her own role in the tragedy.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x265 CABAC Main@L4
  • Video Bitrate: CRF 21 (~1412Kbps)
  • Video Resolution: 1920x972
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 1.975:1
  • Frame Rate: 25 FPS
  • Audio Codec: AAC-LC (Apple)
  • Audio Bitrate: q91 VBR 48KHz (141/201Kbps avg/peak)
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Audio Gain: 4dB
  • Run-Time: 59 mins
  • Number Of Parts: 1
  • Part Size: 658 MB
  • Source: HDTV (1080i/h264 2891Kbps VBR 1.45GB)
  • Encoded by: JungleBoy

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