Widely shared videos showing death in Saskatoon nightclub illustrate dark side of social media

LIT Nightclub is above the Crazy Cactus bar in downtown Saskatoon. (Dan Zakreski/CBC - image credit)
LIT Nightclub is above the Crazy Cactus bar in downtown Saskatoon. (Dan Zakreski/CBC - image credit)

Warning: This story contains details that may disturb readers.

The grainy, graphic videos of the final moments of Hodan Hashi's young life began circulating online within hours of the 23-year-old bleeding to death on the floor of LIT Nightclub.

"There's a very dark side to social media, an underbelly of evil, shareable content," said University of Saskatchewan marketing professor David Williams.

"We've seen it, in terms of social media."

The half-minute videos appeared on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram. They show Hashi and 22-year-old Paige Theriault-Fisher wrestling on the dance floor of the downtown Saskatoon club. Theriault-Fisher is seen repeatedly striking Hashi in the face and neck area.

A pool of blood suddenly appears beneath Hashi, blossoming out across the floor. The women are separated, then Hashi stands and staggers a few steps before collapsing.

Police said that, although they cannot yet say what triggered the altercation, Hashi and Theriault-Fisher knew each other.

Theriault-Fisher is charged with manslaughter. She was originally charged with second-degree murder but that was downgraded not long after her arrest.

She is in custody and is scheduled to return to court Thursday for a bail hearing.

Submitted by Hashi family
Submitted by Hashi family

Williams said the widespread sharing of the videos, and the debate around what really happened Nov. 5 at the nightclub, show the evolution of social media.

He said it's not all about building community and friendship.

"We're all photographable and shareable just by being in the public domain, because there's so many cellphones. There's no privacy in public places," he said.

"The fact that it's two women and it's in a public place with lots of witnesses means it's very viewable. I think people's natural reaction in such circumstances is just to take out their phone and video it and then to post it. Almost automatically."

Alec Couros, an education professor at the University of Regina, said the reality of social media and the internet is that people "can post the most terrible content they can possibly find."

Couros said that people sharing the material may have no idea how they're hurting family and friends of the victim, or traumatizing people who open the file without knowing its content.

"Sending this around can be incredibly traumatizing for the family," he said.

"This moment of their demise happens onscreen and is being seen and pirated and sent across phones across the city."