His cannibalistic conversations with others were interpreted by some as fantasies and by others as an actual diabolical plot he was planning to carry out.
As a result, Valle lost his job with the NYPD and spent a year in prison.
The documentary brings to light the important issue of monitoring what we say in the 21st century both in online forums and across social media platforms.
“Over the last couple years we’ve just seen people … their whole reputations taken down because of something really silly or ignorant or terrible that they had posted,” Erin Lee Carr, the director “Thought Crimes” told Business Insider.
Justine Sacco lost her job at IAC after a tasteless joke she made became a trending topic on Twitter. The aftermath of this ordeal was chronicled in a lengthy New York Times profile. More recently, Chad Shanks, the digital communications manager of the Houston Rockets, lost his job over a tweet that seemed to imply violence.
Carr herself explains she hasn’t run into these kinds of troubles.
“I grew up kind of in an internet family,” Carr said, “we were on the internet a lot and so I feel like I was coached from an early age about what’s ok and what’s not ok.”
Still, she feels the need to be cautious whenever she goes online. Carr has over 10,000 tweets, and before any of them go public, she asks herself, “Could this come back at me in a certain way?”
“I think you really have to be careful about the line of self-censorship and being cautious and I think that is a line that I remain hesitantly cognisant of but need to keep thinking about.” Carr said.
This reflects on the central debate of the Cannibal Cop case, in which it was nearly impossible to determine whether this was somebody letting out his inner-demons, or somebody who seriously wanted to commit a crime. The case has even been reopened, as a federal prosecutor has requested to reinstate the kidnapping conspiracy conviction against Valle.
Working on “Thought Crimes” has made Carr a bit more careful about what she shares, but that she won’t stop tweeting anytime soon.
“I would say I’m more cautious now and I was very careful about the way I talked.” Carr said. “I’ve spent the last year and a half looking at this really dark subject matter and that definitely affected me. But I don’t know, I don’t know if it changed me.”
Valle’s story isn’t the last time Carr will examine how the internet affects us. She has a development deal with HBO and is currently “working on similar stories in the internet true crime space.”
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