Social Advertising and Law Enforcement Essay

Keywords: crime and social marketing, social media crime prevention

Social media is becoming routine in each day interactions, including being associated with crime. While there's been an increase in utilizing it to get started on and partake in criminal offenses, there has recently been an interest in deploying it to help battle and solve offences.

There are many ways social marketing may be used to aid the authorities, one is at the pages that your user has modified themselves to see if they have inadvertently disclosed information which could hold them accountable for certain offences by either uncovering a picture or information relevant to the crime which has been devoted, or noticing a big change in lifestyle because of this from the offense. These could be watched by the authorities or sent in as a tip from a source that could lead to the crime being fixed quicker than without sociable mass media. Studies within America contain the support of the authorities force and wish to use social press more within investigations, however insufficient education about them means time could be thrown away by not understanding the info as well as finding it. There is also a fine range with using social marketing to find information highly relevant to the offense and applying this irresponsibly and finding information through unethical means.

The public have also been using social press to help solve their own crimes by drumming up interest and getting others included and discussing the topics to develop publicity to solve a criminal offenses. These could have been achieved through the loss of a person or family pet or by joining an event where in fact the organisers actively promoting social marketing use to keep the peace in a event. These have then stemmed into other websites being set up based around this to help solve offences for the future.

When the general public obtain information regarding criminals, they took it upon themselves to publicise this within their community to alert other folks of the potential issues within the local area. It has had drastic effects, in particular when promoting about people who have dished up their time for crimes before. There were on-going debates over whether this information has been allowed to be disclosed and resulted in several court battles with pages from the web being removed as the information is not theirs to disclose.

Within the UK, large scale crimes have resulted in companies setting up various pages online and through communal mass media to help solve crimes and promote safe environments. Due to this, there is already a huge network of productive users who can help promote these communications and support them in minimizing crimes. These need to be modified and designed within the constraints of the firms, which are essentially cost based, to allow them to become sustainable for the future in solving offences.


In Sept 2012, Facebook come to 1 billion users worldwide (Fowler, 2012) with Twitter following in second place with over 500 million users (Herngaard, 2012). The audience, therefore, to potentially help prevent or even to initiate offences through social media is huge and constantly growing with more people getting started with these websites among others every day. Social media marketing including Twitter and Facebook are an instrument used by the public for inciting disorderly behaviour. However, just as much as social media is being used to begin antisocial behaviour, it is also being used to attempt to combat these actions and be used in a more fruitful and constructive way.

Information Present Through Social Media

Since social press gained popularity, the public are more ready to disclose private information through these to friends or acquaintances. On Facebook, a report performed in 2005 disclosed that only 0. 03% of profiles investigated proved no information of value that could be utilized to either identify individuals or to source information about individuals (Gross & Acquisti, 2005). From this, social mass media users allow themselves to being visible to anyone who comes across their personal web page. This is also the same for Twitter users whose account is automatically public unless the privateness configurations are configured. Therefore many people could be unknowingly uploading personal information about themselves that could be accessed by criminals, their employers or even the authorities.

Trotter (2012) mentions that 'interpersonal media is a way for communication, but it is progressively more a source of information for the law enforcement officials', which will additionally apply to particular conditions. Certain criminals including Michael Baker from Kentucky, USA put up a picture of himself siphoning petrol from a Police force car on Facebook which later led to his arrest above the offense (Siu, 2012). While this case is obvious to the police that the user has dedicated the offense, other more delicate ways have been used such as flaunting 'goodies' which have been stolen or bought through criminal offense.

LexisNexis (2012) investigated over 12000 law enforcement professionals and revealed that 69% questioned acquired use social press as part of crime investigation. The primary reason this isn't used more thoroughly is because of insufficient training or lack of use within office time or computer systems. If more police professionals were able to use social press within office time, this could help officers within investigations to speed up finding information together with what has been commonly provided, with 67% people questioned agreeing that it will solve investigations quicker. This would lead to more time during the working day to focus on other investigations, and in turn solving more offences than before.

Current uses of SOCIAL NETWORKING by Police

Keeping up with invention, multiple local specialists within the united kingdom, including the Metropolitan Police force, are setting up Facebook pages to make awareness within the city. However, in this early point out of social multimedia being utilized by the authorities, many disclaimers show that is not really a method to survey a criminal offenses but to promote public safe practices and campaigns within the region. This has increased the visibility of the authorities forces which may be useful if using social media in the foreseeable future to help report and solve criminal offenses as there will already be a basic of users readily connected to the service. The reason that these websites can't be used to survey crimes is because of having less Police man hours which could be spent monitoring these websites.

Lothian and Borders Police force in Scotland are one of the first forces in the united states to positively allow Facebook users to record crimes online through their 'Made from Criminal offenses' initiative, launched August 2011 (Silk cotton, 2011). The site was to capture criminals who are living beyond their means using the proceeds of offense by allowing private tips through the Facebook site or Crimestoppers Website. Crimestoppers also have launched an application for use on smartphones called 'TipSumbit' to help report crimes in USA through tips or videos directly to the authorities (Urbaszewski, 2012). Both these methods permit the user to stay anonymous which is often a certain appeal for witnesses. However, with both communications being relatively new to the field, there is limited monitoring by the authorities so tips sent in might not be read and acted after instantly, which could lead to the information becoming outdated. This could be counteracted by employing more employees within the police in UK, however, anticipated to federal budget cuts; the authorities drive has been declining for the last year or two with over 24, 000 law enforcement jobs being lost since the basic elections (Burns-Murdoch, 2012). For an application or website such as these to work successfully a significant sum of money would would have to be invested into it for it to truly have a chance to achieve success. The current economic situation in this country is one of many reasons why this improvement in confirming crimes is happening at a slow pace and hasn't taken off nationwide.

Leveson Inquiry

In 2012, the Leveson Inquiry was caused after there were breaches in the level of privacy of both stars and the general public which warranted the research into the mass media and how it acted. It advised a new unbiased body to moderate the press. Although this is about the current press, which is principally newspapers, similar results can be applied to social marketing as media is slowly getting into online mass media including social press so the suggestion from Leveson can be utilized for the data provided on sociable advertising websites.

Leveson (2012) concludes that 'there have been way too many times when, chasing the story, parts of the press have acted as if its own code, which it composed, simply didn't exist'. This could be used to spell it out the Police using social mass media to support investigations it undertakes while looking for evidence online. The Police have not been trained to use it, nor is the data valid so using it might be a breach of ethics. The information, although has been proven useful using cases, if it's not obvious, could lead to the authorities 'jumping the bandwagon' and following a suspect who might not be the person they want for or keep an individual responsible for a crime they didn't commit if the info they may have provided online was misinterpreted. As all data inputted through social advertising is self-edited, it may not be truthful, so should not be overlooked. This is where using social press to help solve or understand crimes is unreliable because of the freedom people have using what they post and upload to these websites.

Self Policing

The public has tried to use cultural press itself to self-promote offences to help solve them. It has functioned well through certain websites, mainly twitter, to drum up publicity for the criminal offenses to resolve it. Nearly all cases where it has worked are when a pet has been stolen, such as Charley, a 12 week old bulldog who was simply stolen and found through twitter anticipated to relatives and buddies tweeting about the doggie to drum up interest (BBC, 2012). From the combined effort of talk online and folks talking about the absent dog offline, Charley was uncovered. This might not have took place, or at least not as quickly, if the interest was not brought to the front of the public's brain through twitter. Small companies, such as one in Erie, Pa, have created their own Facebook sites to publicise lost domestic pets with the owners and have achieved a 50% success rate with users of the site (Vehicle Rheenen, 2012). This could end up being far better than twitter as the concentration of the website is on lacking pets, however, visitors might not go onto the web site if they never have lost a family pet themselves. The save efforts would then be limited by dynamic users of the web site.

Certain companies also have tried out to rally consumers at large incidents to help survey crimes as they appear during the affair. This happened at Download Happening 2010 where in fact the promoters encouraged happening goers to tweet through the monitored twitter stream any problems happening at the festivity. There is a 41% decrease in crime set alongside the year before (BBC, 2010a). Due to decrease in criminal offenses as of this large event, other celebration organisers might use this as it seemed to have a beneficial effect on the clients by increasing their basic safety.

Controversial Facebook Pages

As mentioned early, one major problem with the Police using social press to survey or help solve criminal offenses is the lack of funding to put it to use as a trusted resource create and checked through the authorities. This has resulted in sets of individuals creating Facebook teams to alert others of the problems of their local communities. The most publicised case of its kind is at Northern Ireland where 'Keeping our children safe from Predators' premiered. Initially it was employed by parents to alert others about paedophiles in the neighborhood area which includes been caused more through Sarah's Rules, which is a Child Intimacy Offender Disclosure Plan that allows parents to ask the Police if a person with usage of their child is a love-making offender (BBC, 2010b). This does not provide the maximum amount of information as Megan's Law in America which also provides parents with information such as addresses of paedophiles. The information provided through this should get to the parents who require it rather than passed on to others.

Information obtained through it has been made public on Facebook web pages which have resulted in convicted bad guys being the centre of hatred from the wider community. One unnamed offender said the content on the website was a breech to his right for privacy which resulted in degrading treatment through the website. This in turn led to activities against him in the real world which jeopardised his basic safety. This individual was convicted and costed for his crimes over twenty years ago and thought he had offered his time; however the parents within the city did not and regarded him still to be a danger to modern culture, which escalated in to the abuse online. A judge ruled that the person was within his privileges to an exclusive life, regardless of earlier convictions and the webpage was turn off within 72 time (Silverman, 2012), however follow up webpages have been create but not to the level of the initial one.

The results from this case have produced an on-going discussion to whether or not parents should be permitted to publicise information they have developed to protect local children. However, this case has confirmed that bad guys have the right to personal privacy, no subject how way back when these were convicted. Nevertheless, from this, there could be a means for parents to have the ability to obtain the information, such as maps of areas (large enough never to be able to identify individuals from it) to show if they reside in a higher risk region of criminals. This may give parents satisfaction and never have to obtain sensitive information from the Police. Though, the Police have limited resources so producing and keeping a system such as this would be unfeasible at the moment. Money could become available if there was an elevated demand for this and if indeed they could prove it might be advantageous for the communities exposing the level of privacy of past crooks.

The London Riots

In Warmer summer months 2011, riots broke out in the united states after starting in London. There was a large presence online with starting and organising riots, but also with assisting to clean up following the riot. Crimestoppers, a crime struggling charity, reported a sizable upsurge in twitter followers during the riot which it used to promote ways to survey crimes or placed pictures of offences happening in the neighborhood areas to help the authorities using their investigations (Hall, 2012). They viewed social multimedia as an instant effective way to get hold of the public to give information about the rioters including where you can avoid. Also, the Metropolitan Law enforcement also create a Flickr site after the riots to catch criminals who had been still at large (London Disorder Haringey, 2012). Although they do not promote this, it continues to be present on the internet for anybody to use and to come frontward with any additional information they may have.

After the riots, Crimestoppers set up several online ways it can provide information to the general public as well as receive advice on offences through their website. A big network of fans on Twitter and their website means that if a huge scale offense was that occurs again, Crimestoppers would be well equipped to provide information to the general public and would probably gain tips more rapidly and in better quantities. Although Crimestoppers only allows offences 'not of any urgent nature' to be reported on the website, if the demand increased for confirming offences online, more employees could be used to screen the tips on the web site which would be responded to quicker.


From responding to the points in this record, it is clear that the general public must be educated with regards to social media. As it is a relatively new technology, the guidelines and rules regarding this are being altered everyday whenever a new problem develops. A school in Somerset has started to address problems within interpersonal media by teaching students about any of it within the curriculum (Walker, 2012). This will assist new users of the risks of writing information online and who's able to view it. This should be introduced nationwide as lessons such as this are very helpful for children as it could open their eyes to the risks of what they post online.

Using social press as a means of reporting crimes is a hard issue to handle. Because of the lack of funding within the Police which is constantly being trim by the federal government and charities such as Crimestoppers relying entirely on money raised for the web site to still operate, the chances of a network being setup and managed on the 24 hour basis may not happen next couple of years. However, using communal media to screen criminals and crime taking place would be a cheaper way to combat crime as no infrastructure would have to be setup as they might use the established social networks. Training would need to be carried out by the officials who be responsible for monitoring to avoid such blunders as shown by the Lothian and Borders Police force in Scotland (Enoch, 2012) where Police Officers were seen befriending thieves. Strict budget slices are forever present within the Police, so locating the time and money for officers training for public media may demonstrate costly and inadequate over time. An alternative way is to hire an exterior online research company as they would have greater knowledge on the subject. This could be cheaper than 'in house' but as the Police need to be secure with all information obtained and used within investigations, this might not exactly be a appropriate solution. However, before issue of cost is overcome within the Police, then the suggestions cannot become a reality.

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