In August 2011 alone, riots erupted in London after Facebook and Twitter messages fueled youth to gather for a protest. The San Francisco regional train system BART was struck by multiple protestors using text messages to coordinate attacks aimed at disrupting train service at peak travel times. A flash mob, orchestrated via social media, gathered to collectively rob a Maryland 7-Eleven.
It’s clear that criminals are using social media as a tool to help them carry out crime and disorder. Police need to become just as savvy too, both in reactive and predictive responses to criminal situations. Public safety organizations can use social media as a new ally in combating crime and protecting citizens.