Every day, technological tools grow exponentially, and nowhere is this growth more evident than in the fields of criminology and law enforcement. Just like the writer who can choose between composing a poison- pen letter or a love-note, and the telephone caller that can be consolatory or threatening, internet users have shown their true colors as well.
It’s easy to be in denial about the power we have on the internet, and the power it has over us. Since the computer can be used both for work and play, most of us tend to think that the time we spend amusing ourselves is harmless, even helpful to relieve our stress.
But anyone who has been the victim of an online scam can tell you that you have to stay on your toes when you give out information about yourself. (For more about online scams, see the following links-)
The growing epidemic of cyber-bullying has proven that our words matter, and it has been sadly demonstrated that people who sit behind an anonymous computer screen feel a lot more free to say atrocious things that they would never say face to face.
While most cyber bullies would say that they were just joking around, and that they never intended to hurt their victims, cyber stalkers and online child pornography users are a in a whole different league of predators who seek their victims with cold calculation and masterful grooming techniques. For more information about these cases, see the following links-
Sadly, news stories of people using the internet to harm others are so common that we hardly blink an eye when we hear of the newest method of scumbags to hurt others online. Yet this one caught my eye, simply for the brazen attitudes and sense of entitlement perpetuated by these users. This morning while scanning through the friend requests on my Facebook site, I noticed that one of my Facebook “Friends” has liked/ joined a site called “Snitch-Watch South Minneapolis.”
Apparently this site was started in November of 2014, and the whole purpose of the site is to name “snitches” who have complied with the police in investigations. The site is not confined to names, but also has court documents so that the public can find out exactly what the “Snitch” told the police regarding an investigation.
Basically, the people who formed and contribute to this site are telling the world that they are going to keep on committing crimes in their neighborhoods, usually involving drug-dealing but often expanded to other gang activity, and that anyone who dares to tell on them will be named on the internet, thereby issuing a death sentence for that person if they should ever show their face in the neighborhood again.
This is similar to the disenfranchised loners who are lured into joining groups like el-Shabaab, Al Qaeda and ISIS after they see online videos that glorify Jihad and the terrorist lifestyle. For more information about terrorist recruitment and the internet, see the following link-
Young people who visit the ”Snitch-Watch South Minneapolis” Facebook site, and others like it, probably feel like they have been accepted into the gang, and they now have earned street credibility simply by clicking “Like” on a computer. What these young people fail to realize is that this is another form of online entertainment or diversion that is far from harmless. Each time a person likes, shares or contributes to sites like this, it makes criminals more powerful and perpetuates the ongoing urban gang tragedy where innocent people die.
Before the rise of the internet, the “Stop Snitching” trend was demonstrated by people wearing T-shirts with the slogan. A search on YouTube or other social media sites will provide multiple videos of gangbangers touting the phrase as if it is gospel. It seems that there is a demographic of people who believe that it is better to turn a blind eye to every criminal act that occurs, rather than to ever report an incident to the police.
These crimes are not just restricted to small time drug deals, on the contrary, the document of the police interview with one of the “Snitches” mentioned on the Facebook site is in regard to the victim being shot. Evidently it’s not considered cool to tell police who tried to kill you.
In this subset of society, it’s easy to see how people perpetuate their own victimization, becoming brainwashed into thinking that they can never escape, they can never succeed, they can never become better people. Instead of seeing role models who struggled to make something of themselves, these kids see large groups of people who perpetuate stereotypes and make the gang-life sound exciting.
Spiderman said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This would be an appropriate lesson to teach our kids regarding use of the internet. Our words, whether typed on the computer or spoken face to face, are like squirting toothpaste out of a tube. Once it’s out, it’s out, and there’s no way to reverse that.
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