Why is 'Justice For Cameron Herrin' trending months after sentencing? Experts say bots to blame
Cameron Herrin, sentenced to 24 years in April 2021, was street racing when his car hit Jessica Raubenolt, 24, and her 21-month-old daughter, Lillia, in 2018
TAMPA, FLORIDA: An onslaught of tweets — many of them seemingly from people around the world — called for justice; more specifically “justice for Cameron Herrin”. The timing for this clarion call feels out of place for those who know who Herrin is.
In Tampa, Florida, in 2018, Herrin was behind the wheel of the car that hit 24-year-old Jessica Raubenolt and her 21-month-old daughter, Lillia, killing them both. Investigators said he and a friend were street-racing on Bayshore Boulevard at the time of the crash.
As per reports, Raubenolt and her daughter were trying to cross the street at West Knights Avenue in what police described as a "lawful crossing." However, before they could make it across, they were hit by a 2018 Ford Mustang, driven by Herrin, who as per authorities, was racing against a gold Nissan driven by John Barrineau. The data recorder in the Mustang reportedly showed that Herrin was speeding at 102 miles an hour before the driver began hard-braking, right before the crash. The speed limit on the road at that time was 45 mph.
Barrineau’s attorney negotiated a plea agreement with the state, pleading guilty to two vehicular homicide charges, and a misdemeanor racing charge for a sentence of six years in Florida state prison followed by 15 years of probation. While Herrin also agreed to plead guilty to vehicular homicide charges, he faced a more significant sentence. And in April 2021, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Nash sentenced him to 24 years. The sentence reportedly came as a shock to many in the legal community.
Fake calls for justice?
Reportedly, TikTok videos featuring snippets from his hearing went viral recently. One of the first of such videos was reportedly uploaded by TikTok user 3hki. With millions of hits, the videos have gone viral across social media. WTSP reported that one of these videos had more than 23 million views, adding that some social media users, who said his actions were a mistake, also called Herrin "cute."
One Twitter user wrote, “This policeman witnessed the accident, and as he mentioned that his speed is legal, but he was ignored! They fabricated their only evidence, which is the testimony of his friend, who was threatened with 30 years in prison,” sharing a clip that was allegedly from the trial. “Look at his reaction when the lawyer mentioned Jessica and Lilia, then an inhuman comes and says he is criminal .. his life it's ruined,” wrote another person on Twitter, sharing another alleged clip from the trial.
One person tweeted, “We, Cameron's friends from all over the world, will not back down from his support, even if they put him in a safer prison.” Another person tweeted, “Why all this injustice to Cameron Herrin Why are you doing this to him He didn't mean it Consider him your son.” One tweet read, “even if the world is against Cameron, we will stay with him because the world has become devoid of mercy, the god with him.”
This policeman witnessed the accident, and as he mentioned that his speed is legal, but he was ignored! They fabricated their only evidence, which is the testimony of his friend, who was threatened with 30 years in prison! #cameronherrin #justiceforcameronherrin #USA pic.twitter.com/8XIPJJjmGt— Move on. (@athens_Nxo) July 31, 2021
Look at his reaction 🥺🥺 when the lawyer mentioned Jessica and Lilia , then an inhuman comes and says he is criminal .. his life it's ruined 💔#justiceforcameronherrin #cameronherrin pic.twitter.com/TuDYMWkjX3— Dew🦋 (@_dew9999) July 31, 2021
However, WTSP also reported that as per experts, the thousands of "people" supporting Herrin, may not be real human beings. Dr Loni Hagen, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida's School of Information, spoke to the network and said, "We collected data between July 19 and 20, and we found a little over 12,000 unique Twitter accounts that circulated Cameron Herrin's case.”
Hagen, along with her students, took those 12,000 accounts and used Botometer, an automatic bot detection algorithm developed by researchers at Indiana University, to scan them."It shows bot accounts are explaining 16 percent of accounts. Suspended, deleted, and private accounts, which turn out to be an ‘unknown’ category by Botometer, are 75 percent of the accounts. So, human-like accounts are only nine percent of 12,000 unique accounts," Hagen said.