Gang Violence and Social Media

gang violence and social media, Chicago Criminal Defense AttorneyFor millions of Americans, social media is a part of daily life. Websites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram help make our large world smaller, bringing people together and allowing them to create and share content.

Most people use social media websites for innocent purposes; staying in touch with friends, sharing photos and videos, and accessing many different types of web content. For some, however, social media sites have taken up a different purpose. Thousands of gang members in the United States are using social media sites to share their message, antagonize rival gangs, and perpetuate violence.

Online Activity

It makes sense that gang members are using social media more frequently. Social media is especially popular with younger Americans, and with thousands of American youths involved in gangs, it was only a matter of time before sites like Facebook and Youtube became platforms for gangs.

The Internet is also difficult to regulate and it provides the anonymity needed to commit or post about illegal activities online without repercussions. Most commonly, gang members are using social media to advertise with which gang they are affiliated. Known as “endorsing,” these posts usually involve pictures or videos of gang members, often holding guns and making gang signs. Other gang activities include illegally downloading music and videos, cyber bullying, and selling illegal items like drugs or stolen property. On top of that, the “dark web,” an unregulated side of the Internet often used for criminal activity, is nearly impossible to monitor, so it can only be assumed that gang members are active there as well.

Severe Consequences

The repercussions for posting about gang activity online can be very serious. Violent and criminal acts committed by gang members are being posted online frequently, leaving them exposed to authorities, or worse, other gang members.

Antagonizing other gangs is often done intentionally. One gang will post a photo or video that was clearly shot in another gang’s territory, leading to retaliation. Posting photos or videos online is easy; however, for gang members, it comes with street violence as a consequence.

Two well known rappers and gang members in Chicago used social media to post threats and insults to other gangs. One was killed after sending an insulting tweet that also revealed his location. The other, who frequently used YouTube to post music glorifying gang life and violence, was shot after two previous attempts.

Sharing the Message

Gangs using social media has also created another problem. The Internet connects people from all across the world. Now, young people in several different countries are able to learn about and imitate American gangs. Graffiti has been spotted in Sweden and the UK from gangs in Los Angeles. While graffiti is often innocent, it is highly possible that the online presence of American gangs are influencing young people around the world to commit criminal and violent acts.

What Can be Done?

Web activity can be difficult to monitor and often leaves authorities in the dark until it is too late. However, police departments in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York have all started paying closer attention to social media sites, hoping to prevent real life violence from happening.

In Chicago, police have been able to work with school workers to prevent violence in cases where they anticipated an attack based on web activity. Experts are hoping to create a program that would monitor gang activity online and notify authorities if there is any indication of crime in real life. Social media sites themselves, like Facebook and Twitter, have noticed criminal activity as well, and have responded with stricter community guidelines.

If you are facing any criminal charges, an aggressive Chicago criminal defense attorney can help. Contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney at 312-270-0999 to get started today.

Sources:

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/10/07/446300514/when-social-media-fuels-gang-violence

http://theconversation.com/when-gang-violence-goes-viral-49211

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