Gangs Use Social Networking to Mark Their Turf

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Teens in gangs are using sites like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter to glamorize their activities and carry on gang wars. In several cases, gang members use these sites to track down and confront rivals by following them on Twitter or checking out their Facebook page, according to a gang awareness blog called Open the Gate.

Teens in gangs are also using social networking to recruit new members.

Authorities call it cyberbanging and they’re trying to fight it by monitoring sites, along with pictures and comments related to illegal activities.

Some gangs are very active online. You may recall the Myspace page of the Atlanta gang 30 Deep. Last year, police arrested two teens and four adults, members of the gang, linked to the murder of a bartender at The Standard and a string of robberies and burglaries. The Atlanta Journal Constitution and Creative Loafing both pointed out that 30 Deep’s Myspace page showcases kids holding rolls of money and flashing gang signs.

Open the Gate also highlights an Atlanta investigator who actually used Myspace to solve a gang related homicide. After scouring hundreds of known gang members’ Myspace pages, the investigator came across a high quality, digital picture of a gun, broken down. The serial number was readable, which lead to a warrant and a ballistics test that linked the gun to the homicide.

Open the Gate, which is part of the Gang Awareness Training Education Program, urges police to take cyberbanging more seriously and devote manpower to searching the social networking sites of local gangs.

2 thoughts on “Gangs Use Social Networking to Mark Their Turf

  1. Noah, this is a really great question. There is certainly a fine line between utilizing resources that weren’t there before (such as Facebook and Myspace) and violating first amendment rights.

    Open the Gate suggests that investigators try to take advantage of these new tools to help solve crimes.

  2. “Authorities call it cyberbanging and they’re trying to fight it by monitoring sites and cracking down on pictures and comments related to illegal activities.”

    This sentence is troubling to me. Searching online profiles of known gang members to find evidence is a great use of resources, but patrolling the internet looking for photos of gang signs seems like a first amendment problem. In what ways are authorities “cracking down on pictures and comments?”