March 31, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 95  

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NEWS

Cecilia’s death mourned online

By Allison Buchan-Terrell
Gazette Staff

As Canadians learn of the death of Cecilia Zhang, some Internet users are coping with the shock by changing their MSN Messenger handles.

MSN users reacted to the news of the discovery of Zhang’s body by adding a C to the beginning of their online nicknames to show their respect to the family, in memory of Cecilia. The tribute has become a trend after users opted to recognize the train bombings in Madrid. Many have adapted the practice to the discovery of Zhang’s remains.

“Our thoughts are with the Zhang family at this difficult time. While we are aware of the tribute to Zhang’s memory through the use of MSN Messenger, we are not able to determine how many of our users have adopted this handle,” said Lisa Daly, marketing manager for MSN.ca.

Jordana Nepon, spokesperson for High-Road Communications, said MSN Messenger has more than 11 million unique users per month and 120 million customers worldwide log onto MSN each month.

“I think this is an excellent way to show respect,” said Barbara Snider, case director for the Missing Children Society of Canada, adding this is the first time she has seen something like this.

“It is one way of showing support — a great way for people who have access to computers,” she said, noting people are at a loss and want to express this.

“The C symbolizes sympathy — my way of showing sympathy and paying respects to her brutal death,” said Darwish Shabar, a fourth-year history student, adding the first thing he thought of was his 10-year-old brother.
“I don’t think it shows anything,” said Faren Bogach, a third-year economics student.

“I think it’s a nice way for members of every community across Canada to stand in solidarity with Zhang’s family, and to send a message that our communities will not stand down in the face of cowardly acts like this,” said Paul Rakowski, a fourth-year genetics student.

“I believe using the C on an MSN name shows young people are still concerned about their community,” said second-year political science student Matthew Fisher.

 

 

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