How Gabby Petito's killing and Brian Laundrie's disappearance went viral on social media

© AP Photo/Amber Baesler A Suffolk County Police Department missing person poster for Gabby Petito in Jackson, Wyoming. AP Photo/Amber Baesler

  • News about 22-year-old Gabby Petito’s disappearance and death spread over social media.
  • Her body was found in Wyoming nearly two weeks after she was reported missing.
  • Posts trying to decipher her case have pulled in millions of views.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The case of Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old who was found dead in Wyoming on Tuesday after traveling in a van with her fiancé, has gripped the nation.

The #gabbypetito hashtag trended on Twitter over the last week while the same hashtag on TikTok has 959 million views and over 12,000 posts on Instagram. There’s also a Reddit page dedicated to chronicling news of the case and a constant influx of media coverage.

Insider tracked the online conversation surrounding Petito’s disappearance, which was ruled a homicide by the FBI on Tuesday, to create a timeline of how the case unfolded in the public eye.

Download our mobile app

September 12: A nonprofit shared the missing-persons poster

Nicole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, reported her daughter missing on September 11.

The next day, September 12, the Aware Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2016 that raises awareness about missing persons, posted about Petito’s disappearance. That day, there were fewer than a dozen tweets mentioning Petito’s name.

Aware’s Facebook post, shared with 100,000 followers, included a missing-persons poster saying that Petito was last seen in Grand Teton, Wyoming, in a white 2012 Ford transit van. The post has since been deleted from their Facebook page, though its history is cached on Google.

Aware’s founder, Kenneth Jarels, told Insider that Petito’s family contacted the organization and shared the original flyer, which he said was viewed “over two million times” on their Facebook. It was removed and replaced with an updated version after “her remains had been located,” Jarels said.

September 13: The news gained traction and a subreddit was created

Social-media posts about Petito followed national news coverage on September 13. (Insider first covered the story on September 14.)

R/GabbyPetito, a subreddit where Reddit users discuss and theorize about the case, was created on September 13. The forum now has over 120,000 members.

The #gabbypetito hashtag had more associated tweets as search interest also increased, according to Google Trends data.

September 14: Brian Laundrie’s statement is released

Laundrie’s lawyer issued a statement to the press on September 14 that his client had “no further comment.”

People shared news articles and the Aware Foundation’s missing person’s poster on Twitter.

Chatter increased on Twitter and other platforms once the news spread.

-ash (@ashkell83) September 14, 2021

The same day, TikTok user Paris Campbell posted a video containing the missing person’s poster, pulling in over 400,000 views.

September 15: Search interest tripled after Florida police labeled Petito’s fiancé a ‘person of interest’

On September 15, Florida police labeled Laundrie as a “person of interest” in the investigation.

Search interest nearly tripled from the previous day, according to Google Trends. Hundreds of tweets and TikTok videos were shared, dissecting news about her disappearance. On Twitter, accounts with only a few followers were pulling in thousands of likes asking about Petito.

-* .・゜✷ ⋆ ・𝖈𝖆𝖙𝖎𝖊 (@catecreates) September 15, 2021

Accounts like TikToker @RobandHaley reached millions of people with videos about Petito and Laundrie.

Users on social media tried to assemble what they believed to be clues, combing through Petito and Laundrie’s social media accounts.

-Kass (@jade_kas) September 16, 2021

September 21: Petito’s death was ruled a homicide

The story hit its most-searched point on Tuesday, September 21, according to Google Trends, after the disappearance became a criminal investigation and a body found in Wyoming was confirmed to be Petito. Her death was ruled a homicide by the FBI on Tuesday.

By Friday, the hashtag #gabbypetito had nearly 1 billion views on TikTok. Her name continued trending on Twitter and Facebook throughout the week.

Read more stories from Insider’s Digital Culture desk.

Read the original article on Insider

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Temperature turnaround coming in Ontario after showery, cool Sunday

Sunday isn’t looking to be much of an improvement in southern Ontario, as lake-effect showers will continue to flow off Lake Huron and Georgian Bay in behind Saturday’s system that ... Read more »

Scotiabank Waterfront marathon's 10K race draws 5,000 runners to downtown Toronto

© Tijana Martin/Canadian Press Runners in the elite female category react after completing the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 10K in Toronto on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. The event was the ... Read more »

Prince William Rocks Green Velvet Tux At Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony

[tp_video id=””] © AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, pool Britain’s Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stepped out on Sunday to attend the Earthshot Awards. ... Read more »

Waterspouts, lake-effect showers likely in Ontario as Great Lakes run a fever

The Great Lakes are running warm for this time of year. Water temperatures on all five lakes are the warmest we’ve seen in mid-October since 1995, and Lake Superior has ... Read more »

Governor General arrives in Germany for first international visit

OTTAWA — Gov. Gen. Mary May Simon arrives Sunday in Berlin to begin her first international visit on behalf of Canada in the German capital. © Provided by The Canadian ... Read more »

Susan Sarandon Reflects On Final Phone Call With Ex Lover David Bowie: ‘It's All So Frustrating'

© Photo: Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images Susan Sarandon and David Bowie Susan Sarandon is opening up about her final conversations with former flame David Bowie. The late music ... Read more »

A future of extreme drought and brutal storms predicted by new climate modelling

Two new climate modelling studies map how the world might experience climate change under warming scenarios of increasing severity and over longer terms. Predicting widespread instances of extreme drought and ... Read more »

Kanye West Performs ‘Donda' Tracks During Rare Live Performance At Venice Wedding

Kanye West’s live performances have been sporadic over the past few years, consisting mainly of his Sunday Service shows, since abruptly cancelling his Saint Pablo tour back in 2016. © ... Read more »

‘SNL': Rami Malek Teams Up With Pete Davidson For Musical Parody Of ‘Squid Game'

It was only a matter of time before Netflix phenom “Squid Game” received the “Saturday Night Live” treatment, and it finally happened in the Oct. 16 episode featuring host Rami Malek.  ... Read more »

Woman pulled from Mississauga house fire dies in hospital: police

© Andrew Collins/Global News Scene of a fatal fire Mississauga Saturday. A woman in her 70s who was pulled from a house fire in Mississauga has died of her injuries, ... Read more »

‘Mindhunter' Director Calls On Viewers To Ask Netflix For Season 3

Award winning director Asif Kapadia believes that a third season of “Mindhunter” “might actually happen” if fans ask loudly enough.  © Photo: Patrick Harbron / ©Netflix / courtesy Everett Collection ... Read more »

Selena Gomez Privately Emailed Facebook Execs About Hateful Content Back In 2020

© Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Global Citizen VAX LIVE Selena Gomez Selena Gomez slammed Facebook for not doing more to tackle hate speech in a private email sent to ... Read more »

Police in Haiti say brutal gang snatched 17 foreign missionaries

© Provided by Al Jazeera Children walk on the courtyard of the Maison La Providence de Dieu orphanage in Ganthier on Sunday where a notorious gang abducted 17 missionaries from ... Read more »

Bowen Yang Steals The Spotlight As Hilarious Oompa-Loompa In ‘SNL'

[tp_video id=”1f622e7a-2f63-11ec-9439-0242ac110006″] © Photo: Will Heath/NBC Bowen Yang as an Oompa Loompa and anchor Colin Jost during Weekend Update Rami Malek is earning rave reviews thanks to his turn hosting ... Read more »

Capital formation: States maintain robust capex pace, so do CPSEs

© Provided by The Financial Express The Centre also roped in CPSEs for pushing public capex, which is key to an investment-led economic growth revival. Aided by impressive growth in ... Read more »

Covaxin for children? Making trial data public will create trust in paediatric-use vaccines

© Provided by The Financial Express With very few Covid-19 vaccine candidates having received any form of approval for paediatric use across the globe—even those that have are restricted to ... Read more »

Statue of Robert E. Lee removed from Dallas park now on display at golf course

A statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that the city of Dallas removed from a public park is now on display at a golf course in West Texas, the ... Read more »

Receiving finance is key to SA's climate adaptation and mitigation plan, says Minister Creecy

While global leaders prepare to head to the global climate action conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, at the end of October, South Africa has made it clear that climate financing ... Read more »

The fight is on for the heart and soul of Matatiele — can the AIC claw back votes in the town where the ducks have flown away?

The raison d’etre of the formation of the African Independent Congress more than 15 years ago has been to fight for the reincorporation of Matatiele, from the Eastern Cape to ... Read more »

$86M bus ‘war room' empty, falling apart two years after MTA ribbon cutting

The MTA spent $86 million on a “bus command center” that has been empty for more than two years. Brooklyn, we have a problem. The MTA spent $86 million on ... Read more »

T20 World Cup 2021: Team India mentor MS Dhoni joins squad for campaign after CSK's IPL 2021 win

© Provided by Zee News The iconic former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday (October 17) joined the Indian team camp as its mentor for the T20 World Cup, ... Read more »

Qld cop in court over NSW border breach

A Queensland police officer accused of helping sneak his daughter across the NSW border while on duty has faced court for the first time. © Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS A Queensland ... Read more »

Mayor and community elder to appear at IBAC hearings

The mayor of a council in Melbourne’s north-east and a respected community elder will be questioned at public anti-corruption commission hearings this week as part of a major corruption inquiry ... Read more »

Lelaki tua dijel kerana cederakan pencuri yang rembat ikan dalam kolam. Ramai warganet luah rasa tak puas hati

USIA semakin lanjut lazimnya dihabiskan bersama keluarga tercinta. Apatah lagi ketika umur semakin senja, rasanya ramai yang meluangkan masa untuk bermain dengan cucu, beribadah ataupun memenuhi list percutian yang masih ... Read more »

Tottenham's Tang Jiali and Celtic's Shen Mengyu offer Chinese football pathway to better future

Former PSG player Wang Shuang of China celebrates scoring a goal with teammate Wang Shanshan. Photo: Reuters It is more than two months since one of the darkest hours of ... Read more »

Murder investigation into ‘shocking act of violence' as 14-year-old killed at Glasgow station

© Police Scotland Justin McLaughlin was rushed to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, but could not be saved. – Police Scotland A murder investigation has been launched into a “shocking ... Read more »

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken discusses Afghanistan with Qatar

© Reuters/JONATHAN ERNST FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Blinken in Washington (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign ... Read more »

FBI seeks information on New Zealand man who allegedly coerced women into making sexually explicit videos

The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a New Zealand man who they say repeatedly coerced hundreds of women into making sexually explicit ... Read more »

Fantasy Football Early Week 7 Waiver Wire: Sterling Shepard returns as potential must-start WR

The Giants have been hit just about as hard as any team in the NFL by injuries, at least when it comes to the skill positions, and they lost Kadarius ... Read more »

Sleepy school board races are waking up to Covid and critical race theory debates

The Blue Valley School District in Johnson County, Kansas, boasts some of the top public high schools in the state. Generally, candidates for the school board sail to victory unopposed, ... Read more »

DC Metro pulling 60% of fleet for Blue Line derailment investigation

D.C. Metro is pulling more than half its fleet of railcars on Monday for an investigation into a derailment on the Blue Line last week. © Provided by Washington Examiner ... Read more »

Fauci says he is polarizing because he supports 'science, data, and hard facts' and not conspiracy theories

© The White House Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking on June 22, 2021. The White House Dr. Anthony Fauci has advised the White House on COVID-19 since the start of the ... Read more »

Ahead of MC polls, civic body launches ‘Corporation Aapke Dwar'

© Provided by The Indian Express The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (MC) is set to begin service at the citizen’s doorstep with the ‘Corporation Aapke Dwar’ initiative, beginning from Sector 45 ... Read more »

'Home Town' Fans' Hearts Are Aching After Erin Napier Posts Rare Photo of Her Daughter With Ben

© Gary Gershoff – Getty Images Home Town star Erin Napier revealed that Ben was away on a business trip. She shared an adorable photo to show just how much ... Read more »

Bank of England boss warns of interest rate rise with energy prices up

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo The Bank of England gave another warning yesterday that it will raise interest rates amid the surge in the price of energy. Governor ... Read more »

‘Definitely a relief': Preps back in school after 74-day absence

Tens of thousands of Melbourne prep students have returned to school this morning after a 74-day absence, in a staged return to face-to-face learning that has been fast-tracked to account ... Read more »

Australia locked out the world. Now it's returning the favour

Through the rigours of COVID-19 lockdowns and lockouts, Australia’s psyche has lurched, shifting the outside world from opportunity to threat — and Australia’s political elite are eager to mine the ... Read more »

Tas three-day lockdown to end on time

Hobart and southern Tasmania are exiting a snap lockdown as scheduled, but some extra precautionary COVID-19 restrictions will remain. © Rob Blakers/AAP PHOTOS A three-day lockdown in southern Tasmania will ... Read more »

Concerns About Diversity as Black Staff Members Leave Congress

© Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times While the 117th Congress is the most diverse yet, representation among congressional staff falls far short of reflecting the population of the United States. ... Read more »

Brian Austin Green Celebrates 1 Year with Girlfriend Sharna Burgess: 'Damn I'm Lucky'

Although Brian Austin Green‘s time with Sharna Burgess on Dancing with the Stars has ended, the couple’s romance is going strong. © Provided by People Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Brian Austin Green ... Read more »