Gangs in Social Media: Data Drives Prevention of Violent Crime

November 1, 2018

Violence in the hoods of urban and suburban America, particularly in minority communities and those of limited socioeconomic means, have been a concern for decades. But with social media’s dominance and growing impact, violence in these cities is now instigated through these virtual social spaces, with content that’s led to everything from shootings, to murder and even Facebook’s eventual intervention to increase their security measures.

How are law enforcement agencies like the local police coping with the matter? It’s a touchy subject – gangs and violent crime has always been an issue and significant concern in certain areas of cities like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. The issue is that violent crime has now traveled outside of the real world and into the virtual one, as both realms bounce violence off of each other like a bloody ping pong effect.

In today’s day and digital era, verbal, video and graphic violence in pictures on social media platforms like Facebook is an extension of the real world violence that persists between gangs. Facebook Live’s launch unleashed a series of visually alarming videos published by gang members in the heat of the moment – either before, during or after the execution of violent crime. The reality is that violence is only being given a louder and more shareable voice than ever before.

Social media has become a loudspeaker for publicizing the violent attacks and ambushes of gangs on civilians, or opposing gangs and their members. And to take this even further, gang member’s multi-media representation of violence on social media creates a domino effect. One post, tweet, share or retweet perpetuates a murder, and the next reaction is the opposing gang’s rebuttal with live violence that’s then exposed on any of various social media platforms. A collection of victims lay dead, injured and scarred for life. Flat on their backs, just like domino’s knocked over, one after the next.

While Facebook has indicated they’ll be increasing security measures and internal personnel to help reduce online hate crimes and its leak over into real-life gang crime, we’re left to wonder how the police are coping with this disturbing phenomenon. In cities like Chicago, the police have taken concrete measures and invested sizable funds in data-driven solutions and manpower to address the escalating effect of violent gang crime due to social media. They’ve recognized that violence is online in as much it is in the streets, and social media’s given a leg up to some of the most active and threatening gangs in the Chicago area.

Since social’s likely here to stay and its presence continues to grow, it’s only logical that measures must be taken to deter violence that either initiates or snowballs into effect due to gangs’ activity on social media. The task at hand is tracking social media activity to effectively catch real-time violence with real-time monitoring that triggers automated alerts of suspicious or violent activity as it happens. With the Chicago Police’s application of intelligent insights derived from their analytical technology and agents’ adamant efforts, violent crime statistics saw a drop at one point in 2017. Real-time feeds of camera footage in high-risk areas, along with data related to suspects’ criminal records have empowered them with the ability to tackle violent gang crime, on and off social media.

The call to action for law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and globally is to make the most of innovative technologies that crunch social media platforms’ data and churn it out into actionable and intelligent insights. Prevention of violent crime, murder, desecration of families, neighborhoods and even violent attacks against youth and children is now possible. Disruptive technologies are generating concrete intelligence from the emerging and evolving activity of gangs on social media. These tools can offer everything from entity association, hashtag monitoring, facial recognition of possible suspects, guidance in correlating one social media user to the next, and much more. What’s bench marking the face of law enforcement against violent gang crime resulting from social media communication? Intelligence – human and artificial blended together to keep violence off the streets and off any social media platform.


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