Chapter proposals for edited collection #TrueCrime: Digital Culture, Ethics and True Crime Audiences

Proposals due by Thursday 1st February 2024.

The hashtag currently has 50.7 billion views on TikTok and 1.3 million posts on Instagram. Reddit’s ‘True Crime Forum’ boasts over 2.6 million ‘detectives’, and the most-watched true crime videos on YouTube achieve in the region of 30 million views. Elsewhere, true crime fans flock to X (formerly known as Twitter), Tumblr and Facebook to join growing communities of like-minded enthusiasts. This level of social media activity—which ranges from acts of liking, sharing and commenting to posting original content such as reaction videos, true crime-themed makeup tutorials and scathing critiques of the genre’s more troubling aspects—is of little surprise. As Tanya Horeck (2019, 130) suggests, true crime plays upon viewers’ affective responses in order to heighten their interest in and consumption of stories. Audiences’ increasing sense of participation and their conviction that they can play a vital role in effecting meaningful social change is, Horeck notes, characteristic of true crime outputs shaped by online media networks in the digital era.

Much scholarship has focused on long-form modes of storytelling in the professionalised sectors of the true crime industry. Fewer, however, have considered the user-generated productions that circulate on platforms such as TikTok, YouTube and X. In the mainstream media, the ethical pitfalls of the low-threshold styles of content creation that typify social media true crime have made headlines due to the activities of digital sleuths, many of whom are also aspiring true crime influencers (Kircher and Hampton, 2021). One of the best-known examples of such problematic armchair detecting occurred with the social media frenzy surrounding the disappearance of micro-influencer Gabby Petito in 2021, with TikTokers poring over Petito’s social media accounts, focusing on minuscule details and perpetuating endless speculation as to her whereabouts and her fate. Bethan Jones notes that the actions of these social media users blurred ‘the lines between websleuthing and fandom, and the increasing treatment of the [Petito] case as a fictional narrative puts true crime fandom on the cusp of appropriate and inappropriate behavior’ (2023, 176). Yet, as we have argued elsewhere (Hobbs and Hoffman, 2022, forthcoming), social media also has the potential to offer true crime consumers and producers alternative avenues of expression that are both individually empowering and potentially genre-changing. The same low thresholds that allow for conjecture and conspiracy also afford audiences space for critique and analysis. The accessibility of social media apps has provided new voices with room for expression and recognition, and, to that end, there has been a substantial increase in visibility for true crime content creators who are themselves survivors of crime and/or who are from historically marginalised groups underrepresented in the wider true crime genre. The range of user-generated materials available also affords consumers access to content that aligns with their personal, political and cultural preferences in ways unimaginable before the advent of digital media.

Editors Simon Hobbs (University of Portsmouth, UK) and Megan Hoffman (Independent Scholar) invite submissions for a peer-reviewed edited collection to be proposed for Palgrave’s ‘Fan Studies’ series. We are looking for chapters of 6000-8000 words on true crime’s presence on any major social networking website, and we particularly welcome pieces that focus on the ethical implications of such outputs.

Possible subjects may include, but are not limited to: 

  • The ethics of true crime content on social media

  • Regulation and censorship of true crime content on social media

  • Social media true crime narratives in a post-#MeToo culture

  • Social media sleuthing

  • The true crime influencer as internet personality

  • True crime fan communities and consumption practices on social media

  • The role of true crime fan production on social media

  • The use of social media by crime victims and survivors

  • Social media as a space to share true crime stories from marginalised voices

  • True crime-related activism on social media

  • Social media as a platform for criticising true crime genre conventions

  • True crime genre hybrids on social media (‘true crime and…’)

  • Gender and social media true crime

  • Race and social media true crime

  • Doom scrolling and true crime

  • The role of subcultural capital, likes and shares in social media true crime

  • The representation of social media use in other true crime narratives


Please send proposals of up to 500 words, plus a short biography of no more than 100 words including your name, affiliation and professional email address, to by Thursday 1st February 2024. Authors will be notified of the outcome by Thursday 29th February 2024. Full chapters will be 6000-8000 words in length.



Hobbs, Simon, and Megan Hoffman. Forthcoming. “It’s Not All R@p!s+$, M!rd3r3r$ and Ki!!3r$: True Crime Activism on TikTok.” In True Crime and Women: Writers, Readers, and Representations, edited by Lili Pâquet and Rosemary Williamson. Abingdon, England; New York, NY: Routledge.

Hobbs, Simon, and Megan Hoffman. 2022. “‘True Crime and . . .’: The Hybridisation of True Crime Narratives on YouTube.” Crime Fiction Studies 3, no.1: 26-41.

Horeck, Tanya. 2019. Justice on Demand: True Crime in the Digital Streaming Era. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

Jones, Bethan. 2023. “Forensic Fandom: True Crime, Citizen Investigation and Social Media.” In True Crime in American Media, edited by George S. Larke-Walsh, 163-79. Abingdon, England; New York, NY: Routledge.

Kircher, Madison Malone, and Rachelle Hampton. 2021. “Did True Crime Influencers Really Help Solve The Death Of Gabby Petito?.” Slate, September 22, 2021.