ZARA McDERMOTT EXPLORES IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA
12 February

Zara McDermott is to present a BBC3 doc in which she investigates the social media frenzy around the Idaho University murders

Summer Films is behind the 1 x 60-minute doc The Idaho Murders: Trial By TikTok, in which the presenter will travel to the town of Moscow, Idaho where four students were found to have been stabbed to death in 2022.

In the doc, McDermott seeks to uncover how global interest in the case snowballed on social media, racking up nearly 2bn views on TikTok. She meets some of the crime sleuths who created and shared clues and theories when police appeared to have none, and some of those who were personally affected by the social media storm.

McDermott told Broadcast that as an online influencer herself she wants to be introspective about the impact that social media can have.

It is important to look at the [social media] world that I and so many other people operate in, and not be nave to it, she said.

This doc is about being self-reflective, which is a theme I want to keep consistent through all my projects. I want to ask: Have I contributed to something?

She revealed that she brought the idea to her commissioners after she herself become obsessed with the case.

I was fascinated in it not because of the crime, but because of the way social media was spiralling in front of my eyes, she said.
People may tune in to watch thinking it is a traditional murder doc, but by the end they are going to have learned something about the sleuthing world and whether or not they even unknowingly - have engaged with it.

The Idaho Murders: Trial by TikTok was ordered by BBC3 head of content Nasfim Haque and head of docs commissioning Clare Sillery with commissioning editor Fran Baker. The exec producers for Summer Films are Lucy Hillman and Sam Whittaker.

Hillman said: In a world where every high-profile crime will now be scrutinised online, Zara has once again shown her ability to get inside a story with freshness, sensitivity and insight by discovering some of the ambitions and motivations behind the self-styled internet sleuths.

Haque added: With her great ability in exploring sensitive subject matters, Zara approaches this film with a deep level of care and understanding for the victims and the case as a whole.

McDermott has previously tied with Summer Films for BBC3 docs including Revenge Porn, Uncovering Rape Culture, and Disordered Eating, and they have a four-part series Zara McDermott: Inside Ibiza  (w/t) in the works.