Showing social media icons on smartphone

Social Media crime – Buses of the 21st century?

About two years ago I did an article for the newspapers on the number of crimes the police logged that were linked in some way to Facebook. At the time Facebook was getting a lot of bad publicity and the article just helped to fan the flames of discontent about the lack of social responsibility shown by Zuckerberg’s monster.
When I challenged the company to comment about the thousands of crimes, including sexual grooming and threats of violence, that were logged against it Facebook’s PR people seemed quite unperturbed. They used a clever, but perhaps flawed, analogy of comparing Facebook to the arrival of public transport and the bus.

“If people get attacked on buses, or people steal things from people when they are on buses, it’s not the buses that are the problem,” they said. “Facebook is just the vehicle for what people say and it is wrong to blame Facebook for how people use it.”

I suppose that is true to a certain extent and you could extend the same argument to chainsaws. Just because somebody used one in Texas doesn’t mean that the useful garden and woodland tools should be wiped off the face of the Earth.

However, the argument falls apart because Facebook, and for that matter Twitter and other social networking platforms, don’t really show any real willingness to make them safe environments.

Buses are made as safe as possible by being well lit, carefully designed and fitted with CCTV cameras – what does Facebook do?

Anyhow the reason to mention this is an article appeared today thanks to an allround Freedom of Information Act request to police forces asking them for crimes recorded where Facebook or Twitter were mentioned. The article was put together by the Press Association and published in the Daily Telegraph [here].

It hasn’t been picked up by other outlets because frankly it is not that good. Articles like this need more colour and examples to make them jump out of the page at the reader, which is why when I do something like this I try to get details of specific cases which can elevate the story and make it more interesting.

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