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Social Networks Crime

Tweets and Threats: Gangs Find New Home On the Net 144

cold fjord send this quote from the Associated Press: "Social media has exploded among street gangs. ... They're turning to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to flaunt guns and wads of cash, threaten rivals, intimidate informants ... sell weapons, drugs — even plot murder. 'What's taking place online is what's taking place in the streets,' says David Pyrooz, an assistant professor at Sam Houston State University. ... 'The Internet does more for a gang's brand or a gang member's identity than word-of-mouth could ever do. It really gives the gang a wide platform to promote their reputations. ... On the crime-fighting side ... this activity ... is transforming how police and prosecutors pursue gangs. Along with traditional investigative techniques, police monitor gangs online. [A] Cincinnati police officer who trains other law enforcement about social media says by the time gang members appear in court, authorities have a dossier of their words and videos online that challenge how they want to portray themselves. 'If a guy goes in and says, "I'm a good person. I've never held a gun," we can say, "Look at what he puts out about himself on social media. Here he is with a gun."'"
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Tweets and Threats: Gangs Find New Home On the Net

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  • by DontScotty ( 978874 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @12:09AM (#45930019) Homepage Journal

    Online footprints nearly reach fingerprint parity

    And, since the criminals won't stop at just one crime, they can even turn around and cyber-bully the officer who took them down

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/02/alleged-gang-member-cyberbullies-cop-on-facebook.html [nymag.com]
    -- just another casual observation on why gang members can sometime gather notoriety for being as dumb as regular social media users.

  • by mendax ( 114116 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @12:14AM (#45930045)

    Well, is it? The Mafia used all the tools of legitimate business such double-entry accounting techniques and computers long ago to run their businesses. Just because these thugs are less classy than the Mafia doesn't make them any less willing to use modern tools.

    But my concerns go beyond how the gangs are using these tools to do their dirty business. In the past, courts have outlawed gangs and ordered gang members to not associate with each other. Are these restrictions, restrictions which are constitutionally iffy, going to soon extend into cyberspace? Yes, they are criminal organizations and those who join them criminals, but does that necessarily mean that these people can never use cyberspace?

  • Legal question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @01:19AM (#45930321) Homepage Journal

    One thing I've wondered about of late is the reliability of evidence collected on the internet.

    We've heard cases where someone was arrested because they admitted to something on Twitter [huffingtonpost.com], or had a picture of themselves doing something wrong on Facebook [about.com], and so on.

    Absent any other evidence, is admission of guilt on the internet sufficient to convict someone in ideal circumstances?

    Does anyone here with legal knowledge know the answer?

    (I understand that you can get convicted of anything for any reason, and even for no reason, but I'm wondering about theory here. What's the situation, given an honest judge and correct representation?)

    (And no, I'm not seeking legal advice on the internet since I'm not accused of a crime.)

    Some examples of late: picture of teenager holding a beer (or holding a joint) leads to alcohol/drug charges, tweeting that you were driving drunk [ninemsn.com.au], and so on.

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @01:25AM (#45930349) Homepage Journal
    People are not clueless, they just sometimes don't get that the laws and regulations are context sensitive. For example, when some people play with a gun in the street it is assumed that they are responsible gun owners [huffingtonpost.com] and will only use it to shoot vermin and people they think are criminals or people they think they can shoot and claim self defense.

    Other if they have a gun are assumed to be criminals and be shot on sight, or brought up on charges for nothing more than having a gun. And this is silly because the NRA has clearly indicated that the problem with our society is there are too few gun owners, that gun owners should not have to register, that private sales, such as those that happen on instagram, should be legal and unregulated, and that only in certain extreme cases should gun ownership be regulated at all.

    Such cases are very confusing to kids. Here is another one that is a pet of Rand Paul. A convicted drug dealer [wikipedia.org] is serving a life sentence because he was caught several times over six years of so selling drugs. Now, I know that this kid had divorced parents, was abused, and is depressed, but I wondered how many people in jail do not have a similar set of circumstances. I don't agree with the drug laws, and think they need to be changed, but I do think that sometimes if someone is convicted of a crime several times something needs to be done. If nothing else they are a very stupid criminal and someone is going to get hurt. But Paul just says in this case we should forgive and forget.

    Again, it is very confusing to kids. This guy rapes a girl, posts the rape on the internet and gets a year of probation, and you tell me that there are consequences. Adolescents, and developmentally challenged adults, which includes a large part of the population, think they are invincible and will tend to over estimate the odds that they will get away with stuff. If we are not sending every kid to jail for a few days who tries to buy alcohol with a fake ID, then what gets out on Twitrer is not that fake IDs are dangerous, but that you probably won't have any consequences so the risk is worth it.

    It is the same thing with guns and dangerous products carried onto airplanes. In most cases, the TSA will just confiscate or destroy. There are no real consequences. Therefore if a terrorist organization wanted to destroy a plane, all they would have to do is setup multiple agents to go to multiple airports until one eventually got through. There is nothing the TSA does to keep this from happening. If you are a licensed gun owner, just say you forgot it was there. The harmless compenents to make a strong acid that can eat away the skin of the plane stored in your shampoo, will just be thrown away.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @01:43AM (#45930391) Journal

    It can be but that wasn't the point of "affecting the severity of the sentence". Presumably, someone would have already have been convicted of a crime before being sentences. The person has an opportunity to say something to the court before the sentence is passed down. Often people will plead for leniency by downplaying their actions as un-ordinary or a special case or something and describe themselves as otherwise upstanding citizens who pose a benefit to society or having them serve time would create an extreme hardship for an innocent party. Most of the time, the lawyer will make this case but sometimes the convicted do it themselves. It goes to the character of the accused and a judge can sometimes impose less of a sentence if you persuade them you are a good person who made a mistake. This is also often the difference between a lawyer and a good lawyer- how well they can convince a judge of your good character can often get you by with a slap on the wrist compared to the maximum penalties.

    What this allows is the police or the prosecution to step in afterwards and say, this is not true, see from his face book page, he is around guns all the time and talks about participating in criminal activities either he or people his associates participated in. Most of this would already be included or summarized in a pre sentencing investigation report but instead of asking your neighbors, you are telling the police directly what kind of person you are or want to be seen as.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 12, 2014 @02:25AM (#45930519) Journal

    No its called "impeaching the witness" and honestly? kinda hard to have a problem with it, really.

    Imagine I'm brought in because the church down the street burns. they find me with a smell of gas and paint in my truck, people saw a truck matching mine in the area, etc. Now I go on the stand, under oath mind you, and say "Oh I never had a problem with that church, not a bit" are you gonna HONESTLY argue that nobody should be able to bring up the fact i was caught on video not a week before calling the members of that church every filthy name in the book and wishing it would burn down, really?

    Because THAT is what these brain trusts are doing folks, they are broadcasting brags about their crimes in public and then are shocked! Shocked I say, that somebody actually notices they are posing with a bag of dope and an AK47? I got a friend in the state crime lab and believe me, not like the cops have to entrap these knuckle draggers, they ALL think they are fricking Tony Montana! I mean do you have ANY idea how many copies of the "scarface coke shot" he has seen? If it was less than 500 I'd be amazed. these bozos have this shit set to public, practically broadcast this shit to everyone that has ever said hi to them even because they WANT this shit to be seen, because they think they are "big pappa bad ass" that an do like some movie and just flip off the world.

    So are we REALLY gonna bitch when cops bust somebody waving a pile of money in front of a mound of dope surrounded by guns and stolen shit and then tweeting that shit to the planet? Really? You might as well say the moron that gets busted at 3AM for driving 80 in a 30 with a half a pound and guns in his car should get a do over because "Well he was stoned, duh". I mean give me a break, if anything they should get an extra 5 years for being so fucking stupid, in the hopes of minimizing the risk to the gene pool!

  • by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <VortexCortex.project-retrograde@com> on Sunday January 12, 2014 @07:58AM (#45931283)

    So, I do a bit of computer security research. I hammer on programs and OSs and make my own. I've gone on and on about how we should disband the NSA, and how it's just pointless scaremongering to get funds to suppress freedom, not protect anyone. Say they trace a compromise of government systems to my IP address. I've clearly got the know-how, and motive. Yet I'd stand up in court and say, "I would NEVER take such action against the government." It's the truth. With great power comes great responsibility, and all that jazz. It's against my ethics to do that. So that's what this "brain trust" is doing. Broadcasting the fact that I'm not pleased with the state of things, and that I can operate a system like nobody's business.

    Now, being that this data is online, and we know the NSA (who also works with the FBI) can potentially compromise any online or digital data to forge "evidence" if they want (and they've been known to manufacture stuff in the past) [wikipedia.org] how the hell can we trust anything they say? How can that IP log be trusted? -- They could just want to get rid of me. My own systems could be compromised (and a firmware dump shows at least one of my routers is). So, there's absolutely no online evidence that should be admissible in court nowdays, you see. I mean a judge? Hell they'll lie to congress in the name of "national security".

    Video is one thing -- a bit harder to fake that, but not impossible given today's props and special effects. Digital mods to photographs can even evade detection if you know what characteristics they'll be looking for. But posting text online? Seriously? No, nothing said online should be taken seriously. I mean, I make games and stories involving aliens and cybernetic overlords, and make posts in such character. We can't just demonstrate selection bias here -- They want to include some of my online content, let's include it all, including the bit about being the sysop of a parallel Universe, the Corn Kernel Equality Activist, the Atlantian anthropologist studying breeding habits American hairless apes, the Disappointed Alien Overmind, and the parent's basement dwelling anti-socialite, and the sentient primordial ooze who's noticed some zany carbon based reactions going on in the aftermath of that one zit that popped with a big bang, etc. There's enough bullshit in there to make just about any kind of claim you want about me through quote-mining, you damned pop-culture supporting cornsagonist.

    The defence doesn't get access to the real state level evidence to present their side of the story due to "national security", so parallel construction can be done in secret anyway. Yeah, let's subpoena the NSA's Ferret Cannon logs to see if it had any exploits targeting the clients? No? Well then quote mining online shit is ridiculous.

    Hard evidence is an altogether different story. Perhaps online posts can be used for probable cause, but seriously? Scarface's Coke Shot? Prove it's not Anthrax or some other white powder. The AK47 and other guns could easily be fakes. Are they? What did the evidence turn up? Cash isn't illegal to have either, though the feds would like to make it that way.

    You don't think kids don't do fake shots all the time to brag? You think they don't lie their asses off to 1up each other? Think they don't lie about kicking someone's ass, or telling off some parent, teacher, the convenience store clerk, or even about having GF's or BF's that are really just strangers or acquaintances in a photo with them, etc. You think I believe you get off to hairy fucking feet because that's what your online username says?

    It's one thing to be driving over the speed limit and get caught. It's quite another to have silly shit folks post online influence jail time. You better wise the fuck up, idiot. They're arresting kids for saying shit in World of fucking Warcraft. [joystiq.com] The

  • by Cruciform ( 42896 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @05:22PM (#45933897) Homepage

    A while back I went to a cannabis site to look at pics of grow ops. There were all kinds of photos taken with iPhones with the EXIF data still intact.
    Meanwhile these guys were regularly accusing each other of 'narcing' about their grows. They didn't get that it wasn't someone jealous over how tall their plants were, but that they were bragging their GPS coordinates to the public with every photo attachment.

    If it's not legal, don't take pictures of it.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.