Posted on : 12-08-2011 | By : Julie Gottlieb | In : Buzz, Government, Online Privacy, Online Safety, Online Speech
Tags: nypd social media unit
On the heals of the London riots which were exacerbated by Facebook, Twitter, and Blackberry Messaging users, the New York Police Department (NYPD) announced the establishment of a “Social Media Unit.” According to New York’s Daily News, the new unit will “track troublemakers who announce plans or brag about their crimes on Twitter, MySpace and Facebook.” Thus, the new unit will not only use social media to track down evidence and perpetrators of crimes, but it will also seek out and monitor social media in an effort to prevent potential crimes.
Assistant Commissioner Kevin O’Connor, a 23-year veteran known for his success in online sex crime policing, will manage the unit under the Community Affairs Bureau, which will also educate officers about social media and organize community outreach programs. The goal is to maximize the unprecedented access to information social media provides. This, however, is not the first time that police have used social media to solve crimes. The New York’s Daily News’s article, NYPD’s Social Media Unit Will Track Criminals On Facebook, Twitter details 3 instances where the NYPD’s use of social media has helped solve crimes:
- In March, 18 year old Anthony Collao, was fatally beaten in an anti-gay attack at a house party advertised on Facebook. Calvin Pietri, one of six arrested, bragged about the murder on Facebook.
- Also in March, an argument over a $20 loan started on Facebook and ended when 18 year old Kayla Henriques, allegedly stabbed 22 year old Kamisha Richards to death.
- In May, a junior high reunion drew hundreds of unexpected guests when the invitation went viral. During the night gunfire broke out; five people were wounded and 20 year old Dane Freeman died.
Then, in June, an overcrowded house party advertised on Facebook as “Freaky Friday” ended in a shooting that left a 20 year old Donzell Rogers dead.
It is evident that police departments throughout the country are using social media as a tool to both prevent and solve crimes. It is likely that many states will follow NYPD’s lead and institute their own “Social Media Units.”
To learn more about NYPD’s Social Media Unit, please read:
- NYPD’s Social Media Unit Will Track Criminals On Facebook, Twitter, Huffington Post
- NYPD to Scan Facebook, Twitter for Trouble, By Margaret Rock
To learn more about the recent riots in London, please read
- What’s Happening With the London Riots? By Hannah Levintova and Samantha Oltman
- London Riots: Police to Track Rioters Who Used BlackBerrys, By Josh Halliday
- As It Happened: England Riots Day Five, By Anna Browning, Vanessa Barford, Fiona Bailey and Rebecca Café
- UK Riots, guardian.co.uk
To learn more about how law enforcement uses social media to prevent and solve crimes, please read the following articles: