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Opinion: Crime and Twitter

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The whole world knows how powerful social media has become over the last decade. It has the power to unite people with a common interest. It relays information quickly to the public. Now, it has reached a new level: advertising crime. The social media site of choice? Twitter.

Criminals, gang members, and extremists are now advertising their criminal activities and “wares” on Twitter. Gang members are posting pictures of their signs, rap lyrics and colors on Twitter. Political extremists tweet their propaganda through videos and pictures. Prostitutes and dealers use Twitter to find new customers. In what may have been the most shocking use of Twitter so far, the extremist group al-Shabab live-tweeted about the Kenya mall shooting, defended their actions and gave a warning of new violent acts to come.

It is not surprising that social media is now being used as an outlet for violence and extremist action. What is so shocking is when gang members, prostitutes, and youth criminals tweet their actions. All these local and regional tweets of crime can be tracked by law enforcement. Police have been tracking any action that is criminally related on Twitter through anonymous accounts and intelligence-collecting software. This software systems and tactics by law enforcement have become more popular within the last two years. 

How did gang members and criminals not see this coming? The law has been able to adapt to growing technology; they have been adapting since the telephone. They learned how to tap phones, bug homes, track emails. It was only a matter of time until they would find a way to track the use of Twitter and Facebook. 

People always say, “Watch what you post. Your future employer has the ability to see anything and everything you post.” Well, these criminals should take note. How could the thought of, “I may get caught if I post this picture of our gang hazing ceremony,” not run through their mind? 

People need to wise up about what they post on social media. Whether it is a status about not liking a professor or a picture of someone smoking a blunt, always think about how this photo could affect the future. Until people actually think before they act or before they post, law enforcement has a pretty simple job: go on Twitter.

 

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