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Police Increasingly Using Twitter and YouTube to Solve Crimes and Raise Awareness

Police actively uses both twitter and youtube to solve crime – Image Courtesy Youtube

I do not know about you, but I find it really annoying and quite upsetting to see clowns online posting video evidence of their crimes. I am not concerned that they are burning themselves and pretty much setting themselves up for a long jail term by posting videos of their muggings, petty robberies and other clown-like shenanigans online. What is upsetting is the fact that these crimes are being perpetrated. Need examples? How about the beating of the college student in Massachusetts over a pair of sneakers? What about the video classic of the elderly man being knocked out unconscious on a subway platform in Chicago? I can go on forever.

These videos truly highlight the sheer animal-like behavior of some people. Talk about being douchebags. It is bad enough people are douchebags in private, but do they have to let the rest of the world know? The upshot of these criminals and thugs posting self-congratulatory videos of their crimes online is that by doing so, they are tipping off law enforcement authorities to their shenanigans. The public outrage these videos provoke pushes police to ask the public for help in identifying both the victims and the perpetrators. Both the well publicized video crimes that I described got solved and thanks to YouTube, Twitter and social media.

The good news is that increasingly, police are using YouTube and Twitter to raise awareness regarding crimes and solve those crimes. For example, police are increasingly posting YouTube videos of CCTV footage to get the public’s attention and to catch criminals. In fact, over 40 police departments in the United States are turning to YouTube and social media to get the word out regarding unsolved cases. The Philadelphia Police Department, for example, has its ‘video villains’ program, which regularly posts video of unsolved crimes that were caught on surveillance tapes. These videos ask the public for anonymous help in solving the crime that was documented by the video.

The bottom line to this development is that while YouTube and social media can be used by criminals to commit crime or to document their crime, they are also being used by law enforcement authorities to solve crime, and most importantly prevent crime. I think it would be reasonable to assume that as criminals get wise to how social media is used to solve crimes, we would be seeing less and less of brazen crimes being documented by criminals and being posted in YouTube. At least we should hope so.