A criticism — by the founder of an organization that works with teenagers — of the NYC police strategy dealing with gangs:
The strategy seeks to exploit the online postings of suspected members and their digital connections to build criminal conspiracy cases against whole groups that might otherwise take years of painstaking undercover work to penetrate. Facebook, officers like to say now, is the most reliable informer.We're told that opposition to the "stop and frisk" tactic has led to this, but I find that a little hard to believe. Why wouldn't the police use both approaches if they could? Also, I wonder what the police are really doing, since publicly revealing a tactic is itself a tactic. From the above-linked NYT article:
Operation Crew Cut melds intelligence gathered by officers on the street with online postings, allowing the department to track emerging conflicts in a neighborhood before they erupt into violence and, when shootings do occur, to build conspiracy cases against those responsible. But the scrutiny online has raised concern that idle chatter by teenagers might be misinterpreted by the police.
Officers follow crew members on Twitter and Instagram, or friend them on Facebook, pretending to be young women to get around privacy settings that limit what can be seen. They listen to the lyrical taunts of local rap artists, some affiliated with crews, and watch YouTube for clues to past trouble and future conflicts. Party announcements posted to social media draw particular attention: officers scour the invitation lists, some of which explicitly include members of opposing crews, beseeching them to “leave the beef at home,” said Assistant Commissioner Kevin O’Connor, who heads a police unit focused on social media and youth gangs.Presumably, the idea is to deter criminal activity by creating the impression that the police are everywhere. That's very easy to do, once everyone's gone on line for their friendship (and criminal conspiracy). I wonder how many police department employees have jobs that consist of reading kids' Facebook postings and analyzing rap lyrics. Do you think that's creepy/offensive surveillance or clever and important work? Do you think it's a good anti-crime tactic to paranoia amongst vast swaths of NYC teenagers who might otherwise socialize on line?