Top 20 Normal Social Media Posts with Disturbing Backstories
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Normal Social Media Posts with Disturbing Backstories.
For this list, we’ll be looking at social media posts or photographs that initially look harmless but are connected to disturbing or uncomfortable backstories, either by external circumstances or their accidental association with dark controversies.
Have you ever thought twice about something you’ve seen on social media? Let us know in the comments below!
#20: A Descent Into QAnon
An Arizona man named Michael Meyer posted to Facebook claiming that he had uncovered a secret human trafficking ring in Tucson. This ignited a storm of concern, but it didn’t take long for investigators to prove that it was all made up. But that was just the start of the story. Meyer received thousands of dollars in donations, which subsequently disappeared without a trace. Meyer then fell deeper and deeper into QAnon conspiracies. He often films himself wandering the desert and stealing water tanks from humanitarian groups that he’s convinced are part of the trafficking ring. He was finally arrested and charged with two felony counts of third-degree burglary. It’s a rather disturbing spiral that all began with a viral Facebook post.
#19: The Turpin Family
Peruse the Turpin family’s social media and you’d find a seemingly happy group. Mom Louise and father David smiling while renewing their wedding vows, their kids a well-matched group around them. A funny picture referencing Dr. Seuss with the children wearing “Thing” shirts. In fact, Louise’s aunt directly commented on the family’s Facebook account, saying they looked like “one big happy family.” In reality, these children were being horrifically abused by their parents. They were only let out of the house on occasion, resulting in these seemingly-normal pictures. One of the kids, Jordan Turpin, eventually escaped and called the police. Louise and David were found guilty of numerous charges and given 25 years to life.
#18: Emily Sander
Back in November of 2007, a particularly disturbing post was made on 4chan. The anonymous user uploaded a picture of a young woman and claimed that whoever guessed their own post number would be given a set of coordinates. These coordinates would allegedly lead to the body of the girl in the photo. As uncomfortable as it is, this sort of content is a regular occurrence on 4chan, so people played along. But the coordinates did in fact lead to a body, and this was later identified as Emily Sander, the young woman seen in the photograph. Some believe this was a hoax perpetrated by a 4chan troll, but others are convinced that the poster killed Sander and gave the coordinates to her body.
Issues of police brutality are a hot topic in the news, and it’s represented best through the misaimed #myNYPD campaign. In 2014, the New York Police Department looked to bolster their image on social media and created the hashtag. The idea was to have everyday people post pictures of themselves interacting with friendly police officers. But this simple post ignited a firestorm. The hashtag was quickly hijacked and people uploaded many instances of police brutality and abuses of power. Swinging batons, people getting thrown onto the ground and choked - it was all there. The protest movement was incredibly popular, and it thoroughly dismantled the NYPD’s benign intentions with an upsetting reality.
#16: Claire Miller
You never know about the people on TikTok. Some may look ordinary but are actually harboring dark secrets or malicious inner demons just waiting to emerge. This is eerily exemplified through the account @spiritsandsuchconsulting, which had about 20,000 followers. The girl who ran this account seemed like your typical teenager, posting about anime, dancing, and making jokes about her dad. However, internet sleuths later linked this account to a convicted murderer named Claire Miller, who stabbed and killed her disabled sister in 2021. The videos were made prior to her arrest, with the most recent being uploaded just one day before the killing occurred. Miller is now in prison, having been convicted of third-degree murder.
#15: The Petito Pictures
22-year-old Gabby Petito had an adventurous spirit, so she and fiancé Brian Laundrie took a cross-country trip in a camper van. Petito regularly uploaded photos of the trip to her Instagram page @gabspetito. The final photo was uploaded on August 25, 2021, showing a smiling Petito holding a knitted pumpkin. Her mother then began receiving odd text messages from her daughter, claiming that they were written in someone else’s voice. Laundrie later returned home without Petito. Her remains were found in Wyoming’s Bridger–Teton National Forest on September 19, nearly three weeks after Laundrie arrived home. An investigation later revealed that Laundrie had strangled Petito, disposed of her body, and texted her mother as her. He took his own life shortly after her remains were discovered.
It’s evident that many people love a good hashtag takeover. The New York Police Department learned this the hard way, and so did McDonald’s. Back in 2012, the famous chain launched the hashtag #McDStories, hoping to inspire positive tales about their delicious food and unbeatable hospitality. Naturally, customers quickly hijacked the hashtag and shared some less-than-fortunate incidents. Tales ranged from the comedic and goofy to the disgusting, disturbing, and even tragic. Horrific injuries, unfortunate farming practices, even fatal heart attacks, you name it. The campaign was such a disaster that McDonald’s pulled the plug after just two hours, but the damage had long been done.
#13: An Unfortunate Photoshop
Kim Zolciak is a regular cast member on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” and she has repeatedly been accused of photoshopping pictures of her children. Perhaps the most infamous case occurred in 2018 when Zolciak posted what looked like a harmless picture of her daughter Kaia with her son Kane. However, her older daughter Brielle posted the same photo to Instagram, and people immediately noticed some key differences. In Zolciak’s photo, young Kaia’s nose looks slightly smaller and her bottom slightly bigger. The latter is especially evident in the way the baseboard warps in Zolciak’s photo but looks normal in Brielle’s. The revelation quickly gained traction on social media, with many condemning Zolciak for making the alterations.
#12: Staying for Pizza
It was September 8, 2014, and DiGiorno saw that the hashtag #WhyIStayed was trending. Deciding to hop on the wagon (and not doing a single second of research), they added their contribution: “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.” Simple enough. Except this hashtag was being used for a much more nefarious and uncomfortable purpose. It was actually being used to facilitate discussion about domestic abuse and why people stay with their aggressive partners. Put in that context, the DiGiorno post takes on a whole new, and far less wholesome, meaning. The company quickly deleted the post, admitting that they “did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.” They then spent the next day writing personal apologies to offended users.
#11: Taking a Bite
In June 2014, PUMA posted a photo on X, formerly Twitter, depicting a muscular man wearing the blue jersey of the Italian soccer team. Accompanying the picture was the caption, “Players look damn good in those PUMA shirts. Hard to resist taking a bite.” Odd phrasing. What’s that about? Well, this was actually part of a wider meme in which companies and corporations were making “bite”-themed puns about soccer player Luis Suárez. During the 2014 World Cup, Italy was playing Uruguay when Uruguay’s Suárez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder. It was not a serious injury, but it was enough to get Suárez banned from football for four months.
#10: Walrus Attack
Jia Lijun believed he’d made an unusual friend: a walrus at the Xixiakou Wildlife Park in China. He documented his trip to the park on WeChat, where he referred to the walrus as “so strong, so big.” Unfortunately, he made a terrible mistake when he entered the walrus’s enclosure, turned his back on the huge animal, and attempted to take a selfie. The walrus grabbed him and pulled him into the water. According to staff at the zoo, it may have been acting playfully rather than aggressively; but after a struggle, Jia and a zookeeper who tried to help him were both drowned.
#9: Hitting the Hay
Back in 2013, the supermarket company Tesco sent a tweet to its followers that read, “It’s sleepy time, so we’re off to hit the hay.” This seemingly innocuous statement became unexpectedly popular, receiving hundreds of comments and over two thousand retweets – but not for a positive reason. Only a few days earlier, Tesco had been accused of selling burgers with horse meat in them; an accusation which, unfortunately, turned out to be true. Tesco’s ill-timed reference to “hitting the hay” caused an uproar on Twitter and prompted an apology by the company spokesperson.
#8: Be Careful What You Repost
In 2014, one Philip Bradbury made a request to US President Donald Trump on Twitter. He wrote, “My parents who passed away always said you were a big inspiration. Can you please RT for their memory?”. He included a picture of a middle-aged couple. Not one to refuse a fan, Trump obligingly retweeted … and became the butt of jokes throughout the UK. It turned out that the “parents” in the photograph were none other than Fred and Rose West, notorious English serial killers who murdered at least 12 people before they were caught in the 1980s. Everyone should be cautious about reposting material from unknown sources, but especially future presidents!
#7: A Sinister Marriage Announcement
When Charlie Carver’s Facebook page announced his marriage to Kala Brown, his girlfriend, family and friends were more worried than excited. The day before, both Carver and Brown had mysteriously disappeared, and the fact that Brown had left her dog alone and unattended was suspicious. As days passed, several more Facebook posts appeared, some disturbing – such as news stories about the missing couple and violent messages. Police were able to track the location of Carver’s and Brown’s cell phones, which had ended up near the property of real estate broker Todd Kohlhepp. There they found Brown, tied up in a crate, and Carver’s body. Kohlepp had abducted them both, murdered Carver, and posted the Facebook messages in Carver’s name.
#6: Appearing Innocent Isn’t Enough
When Alan Hruby posted a picture of himself relaxing in a hotel with college roommates, probably no one who saw it guessed that his parents and sister were dead at home. The housekeeper found them the next morning; they had all been shot. In spite of the post on social media, which might have been an attempt to create an alibi, suspicion fell on Hruby pretty quickly. The young college student was a compulsive and extravagant spender, so desperate for money that he had previously stolen his grandmother’s credit card. As it turned out, Hruby had murdered his three family members in cold blood, believing he would then inherit their money.
#5: Posting While Flying
Amritpal Singh was an amateur pilot who liked to post pictures from the air to social media. While admiring his lovely photos, friends and family members probably never stopped to think about the possible danger to Singh himself; but sadly, it eventually caught up with him. In May of 2014, Singh’s plane crashed not far from the Front Range Airport in Colorado. He and his passenger, a friend, were killed in the crash. Evidence showed that both of them had been taking pictures and selfies with their phones; authorities believe that the flashes temporarily blinded Singh, making him lose control of the plane. Those old selfies feel different in retrospect.
#4: At the Red Lake
In 2017, when travel vlogger Sarah Funk visited the Mitsero Red Lake in Cyprus, she and her partner probably thought the place was creepy enough. A mining company excavated there long ago, then abandoned the site, leaving an acidic crater that fills with red water every winter. Funk posted a video on YouTube of herself at the lake, with what appeared to be an old suitcase floating in the water nearby. Two years later, a Cypriot army captain confessed to murdering several people, putting their bodies in suitcases, and throwing them into the Red Lake. So chances are, without realizing it, Funk was near one that day in 2017.
#3: Off the Road
Based on her social media posts, Gabby Petito’s travels across the United States with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie seemed idyllic. An aspiring influencer, she documented them hiking, camping, and having fun on the beach. However, all was not as it seemed. Witnesses told police that they saw an altercation between the couple; police found Petito distraught. About a month later, Laundrie returned to Florida in their van – alone. Not long after, Petito’s body was discovered in a national park in Wyoming. Laundrie, the prime suspect, was found dead in a swamp some time later. He had taken his own life, and in his notebook, he admitted to killing Petito.
#2: Dating Turned Deadly
When Sydney Loofe didn’t come to work one day in November of 2017, concerned friends and family contacted the police. Investigators saw that her last post to social media had been a selfie with the caption, “Ready for my date.” She had been in contact with a woman on Tinder named “Audrey”. They also found that her phone had pinged at an apartment near Lincoln, Nebraska. However, the apartment’s residents, Bailey Boswell, and Aubrey Trail, had disappeared. The couple posted videos on social media claiming they didn’t know what happened to Loofe, but had fled because the police were after them. After Loofe’s remains were discovered not long afterward, both were convicted of first-degree murder.
#1: A Scam, an Escape & a Murder
Our top pick is one of the most disturbing stories in social media history. Dee Dee Blanchard had a joint Facebook account with her daughter, Gypsy Rose, where she would post asking for donations. Rose was apparently suffering from leukemia, muscular dystrophy, and other ailments. As it turned out, however, Dee Dee had been lying to doctors and friends for years; Rose had no serious medical conditions, and had been confined to the house and forbidden to speak to anyone. When Rose was 20, she met a sympathetic young man online, and they hatched a plan to murder her mother. Once it was done, Rose announced the fact on their Facebook page. Although Rose is now in prison, she says she feels freer than before.