What Role Does Social Media Play in Crime?

With 4.55 billion social media users worldwide, it’s safe to say it plays a pretty big role in everyones’ lives. (Datareportal) We all know there are pros and cons to social media in general, but there are also pros and cons in its relation to crime. 

Social media can be used to track victims and possessions, like in the 2016 robbery of Kim Kardashian, who had 10 million dollars worth of jewelry stolen after posting it on her Instagram (CNN.) This happens on much smaller scales to everyday people more often than you think; for example, two thirds of robberies occur when the victims are not home (CNBC.) A huge way to track if somebody is home or not is through social media, whether it’s somebody posting vacation pictures or viewing their location on snap maps. Social media has increased the distribution of illegal drugs and made it harder for law enforcement to track down so many different sellers, rather than a few big websites online, which used to be the norm a few years ago. Fraud and identity theft have become increasingly easy and more common thanks to social media, as well as harassment and threats. 

Social media has boosted “performance crimes,” where people post and brag about criminal activities to followers online, which is potentially dangerous as it may encourage others to do the same. That being said, these posts also give police leads and proof in some cases.

This is seen in the recent string of organized retail robberies at a Nordstrom in California on Black Friday of this year. 80 people flooded the store at the same time, and stole over $25,000 worth of merchandise in under a minute.

This Nordstrom was the scene of a social media inspired crime.

This also happened in Chicago, with over a dozen people stealing about $120,000 dollars worth of items from a Louis Vuitton store. Police believe these were not a random gathering of people, but a planned robbery that could have only been organized through social media, due to the number of participants. Many of these similar types of crimes have occurred in this area, and around the world, leaving police struggling to fight against the speed, coordination, and volume of these crimes that only social media can provide.

This being said, social media has many positive aspects and is here to stay, so the criminal justice system has been forced to adapt. In California, the fine for felony theft has been raised from $500 to $950, and many stores have implemented higher security. Social media platforms play a role in this as well, and hopefully creators will be able to better prevent these organizations and spreading of crimes, to make the internet, and the real world, a safer place.










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