Details about the murder of Bianca Devins—a 17-year-old model and "egirl" with a following on male-dominated, online spaces, including 4chan and Discord—remain murky.
What's clear is the fact that her murder is inseparable from the toxic, male-dominated Internet communities that her killer frequented. Moreover, the reaction to her horrific death highlights the need for regulation and monitoring of anonymous online safe spaces for men with violent ideologies.
It's hard to determine exactly how Bianca Devins initially met her alleged killer. Early reports deemed him an online stalker, while police pinned him as the victim's boyfriend. Regardless, they both occupied many of the same insular online spaces––Instagram, 4chan, and Discord––where Bianca's murderer found a like-minded audience of other sick, young men with which to share pictures of his victim's corpse.
The "egirl" moniker refers to a specific "type" of female Internet personality, a variant of the emo stereotype who plays video games and likes anime. According to one of the more popular Urban Dictionary definitions, an "egirl" also "begs for money or sells herself for it." The most famous "egirl" would likely be Belle Delphine, a UK-based cosplayer and streamer who successfully sold her bathwater for $30 a jar to men online.
Female models pandering to men within typically "nerdy" spaces, like gaming and anime-fandom, occupy a particularly precarious position within Internet culture. These women garner many men's affections, sometimes resulting in intense, almost cult-like followings (as is the case with Belle Delphine, whose bathwater sold out almost immediately). On the other hand, they become an outlet for and target of many men's sexual frustrations, oftentimes referred to as "thots" ("that ho over there") and derided for their sexuality and ability to make large amounts of money from "thirsty" men. Oftentimes, the men who love them and the men who hate them are one and the same.
As almost every woman who has ever had any online presence already knows, male vitriol is rampant online. This is especially true in niche echo chambers where angry young men gather to vent, parrot, and ultimately exacerbate their own rage towards women and minorities. While these spaces, like 4chan's /r9k/ (Robot9000) board and 8chan, tend to attract self-proclaimed incels as well as merely confused young boys, the result of membership is almost always the same: radicalization and a spiral of hateful ideologies.
Over the past few years, multiple young killers and terrorists have been connected to these types of communities, including Elliot Rodger, the Christchurch shooter, and the Poway shooter. Bianca's killer, regardless of how they met, fits the same criteria: steeped in a culture characterized by memes ("Subscribe to Pewdiepie!"), "pill" ideology shilling bulls**t manosphere "truths," and lots of hatred.
But these communities don't just attract and radicalize killers and terrorists––they actively encourage them. Afterwards, their horrendous deeds are celebrated. Elliot Rodger, for instance, is lovingly referred to as "The Supreme Gentleman" across all sorts of incel-related forums for his murder of six people. In this light, it's no wonder that members of these communities delight in seeing pictures of a 17-year-old "egirl's" murder.
The real tragedy, though, is that every single murder and every act of terrorism connected to these communities is entirely preventable. So why isn't anyone doing anything to stop them?
Imagine if the vast majority of potential school shooters gathered in a few small online spaces to openly discuss that they were considering shooting up a school. Any sane person would expect multiple government agencies to monitor those communities and for those communities to work with those government agencies to keep track of the people who visit their sites.
Now, imagine other people were visiting those spaces, joining in, and eventually saying, "Hey, I'd like to shoot up a school, too." Then some of them really did. Any sane person would expect those spaces to be shut down. Well, guess what? That's exactly what the most violent online forums are—except instead of just school shooters, they also include plenty of dudes who want to shoot up mosques and synagogues and target minorities, especially women.
And nobody is doing a single f**king thing about it, so the carnage keeps happening. Again and again and again. The government is happy to put Muslims on a no-fly list based on the mosques they attend. But, apparently, when it comes to mostly white, male radicals who continually kill women and minorities (and then openly celebrate terrorism in their cyber safe space), putting them on a watchlist is just going too far. Demanding that the websites hosting them turn over IP addresses of people making provably credible threats, over and over again, is just too much work. Why? Why do we let these things keep happening?
Free speech is a right, but anonymity is not. Communities that choose to breed, foster, and shield people who prove time and time again that they are willing to commit savage violence should be dealt with appropriately. The alt-right Facebook alternative, Gab, for instance, was dropped by Apple, Paypal, and GoDaddy after it was discovered that the site permitted Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter Robert Bowers to spread hate until he killed 11 people. Imagine if the government had been monitoring Gab in advance.
It's time to either get on top of these radicalized communities or shut them down. Otherwise, the blood is on our governments' hands too.