In an article published today in the New York Times, the NYPD seems to be beefing up social media monitoring as a tactic to replace the once common stop-and-frisk, which was ruled a violation of rights by a federal judge earlier this year. According to the article, the NYPD says 30 percent of shootings over the past several years can be connected to youth gangs known as “crews” or “sets,” and Facebook is a particularly reliable source for connecting people with these groups.
Police also claim people involved in gang activity often threaten people or boast about past actions on Facebook, which enabled the NYPD to thwart a potential violent incident earlier this spring. Now it seems they will be relying more heavily on “Operation Crew Cut” to root out potential crews. The officers are also using Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, often disguising their identities to gain access to individuals.
This strategy has been applauded even by staunch stop-and-frisk opponent Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, among others. But the increased use of this tactic also brings up some serious questions about internet privacy and government surveillance. While internet bullying should never be condoned, could an idle threat by a teen somehow link him to gang activity? What’s your take?
(h/t New York Times)