Online speculation around the disappearance of Nicola Bulley may not stop, despite an inquest into her death ruling her drowning an accident, because of the "kick" amateur sleuths get from 'likes' on their posts, an expert has said.
Former Met Police detective Jon Taylor said that despite the inquest concluding, the high level of social media interest in the case meant people may continue to present other theories about her death.
"The problem you've got with social media is its a platform for – in many ways – the minority, and the vocal minority are able to voice an opinion," he told GB News.
"One of the biggest areas I think should change is the ability for that individual to see how many people have viewed, liked reposted or shared their comment because that's where they get the kick from.
"They think they're popular, they become unfortunately that word 'influencers'. They think they're influencing other people.
"Take that away so they don't have that little benefit of 'oh, I'm really popular', then you're taking away the reason they think they're justified in doing it.
"Will that draw a line under it? I hope so because from the outset of the police investigation they were always dealing with this as a high-risk missing person and a disappearance that involved the river, either accidentally or possibly deliberately."
"What we do know is that unfortunately this wonderful mother, wife, daughter, sister died as a result of drowning – we know that. What we'll never know is why she ended up in the river," Taylor said.
But even as one expert explained how Bulley could have inhaled a lethal dose of water after just 20 seconds in the almost-freezing river, people posted to social media with wild conspiracy theories.
This was despite the family making a plea to amateur sleuths to stop speculating during the search for Bulley and urging people “to look at the facts the evidence that has been heard during the inquest, and the conclusion reached by the coroner and to ignore any amateur views and opinions and be mindful of the impact words bring”.
A statement from the family, read out by Terry Wilcox, of Hudgell Solicitors, said: “The last few months have been extremely tough to process for our family. Sadly, we feel the need to again raise and address the issue of social media.
“It’s upsetting that we’ve continued to receive negative targeted messages and still wildly inaccurate speculation being shared on numerous platforms.”