New York Police Department forms social media unit

Posted on Aug 13 2011 - 4:13pm by Julius

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has formed a new unit to sniff out troublemakers by analyzing entries on social media networks that include Twitter and Facebook.

Kevin O’Connor, the newly named assistant commissioner and one of the department’s gang and online gurus, is in charge of the new social media unit, reports the New York Daily News. O’Connor has over 23 years of police work, some of which involves online cases.

The new unit will be operating under the Community Affairs Bureau, and will also be handling outreach programs. It will scan sites like Twitter, Facebook and Myspace for clues that will lead them to “troublesome house parties, gang showdowns and other potential mayhem.” Social networking sites are being targeted because young people are known to use these sites to a great extent.

It was reported that the NYPD has extensively used social media and technology to solve a number of cases, including the fatal beating of an 18-year-old man named Anthony Collao, in an anti-gay attack in Queens. One of the attackers, Calvin Pietri, bragged about the attack on Facebook. The department also solved the case of a fatal shooting of a man at a high school reunion in Queens that went viral on Twitter.

Social media has become a powerful tool in organizing and planning group action, as evidenced by the recent Arab Spring protests and this week’s London riots. Rioters have used BlackBerry and Twitter messages to spread information in real time.


via: Daily Tech

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