A lot of information is communicated via the mass media. Bucher (2015) defines mass media as a diverse assortment of media technologies, such as the print media, radio and television, and the digital media, that are intended to reach a huge audience. One of the major tools associated with the mass media is the social media. It is part of the digital media technology. Social media refers to internet associated platforms, technologies, and networks that enable people to share their thoughts, ideas, opinions, interests and information with others or to a certain target group (Kelly, 2016). Some of these social media platforms are interactive: reactions are expressed and feedback provided. True, false, unsupported, humorous and ominous information is often posted on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. This paper looks at the impact of social media and its uses, regarding crime and violence. Social media has a variety of uses; some of which are beneficial to the users and the intended group while others are directly linked to criminal activities. To a large extent, the social media offers invaluable information as well as very intellectual tools for dealing with crime.
Impact of Social Media
One of the positive uses of social media is that it increases the social interactions and connections through networking. The social media augments social interactions through quick sharing of information and thoughts, especially where privacy is minimal. This interaction is beneficial because many people can get information and communicate with the rest of the world. For instance, one can freely interact with another from a different part of the world. Valuable information is spread swiftly from one person to another thus disaster is avoided, and at times, a life saved (Benson, 2016). Also, strangers get to know each other through social network sites. Later on, more information is shared, and friendships are formed.
Secondly, job opportunities can now be advertised and filled via the social media. According to Kelly (2010), social media has been crucial to people seeking employment as employers, nowadays, post various vacant positions in their organizations on the social media platforms. Were it not for such social platforms it would be very difficult for the potential employee to realize the existence of such positions. This has greatly helped fight corruption as the position, in most cases, is offered to the qualified candidate. Also, the interviews are conducted online, through telephone calls, and Skype. This has helped save time and other resources.
Social media is also a great tool for communication and maintenance of contacts with relatives and friends; especially if they are far from one another. It is also very helpful in sharing of information that may not be easily communicated on a face to face situation. People dwell in different places; hence, are involuntarily separated from their friends and relatives. However, they need to communicate, and one of the available and most accessible platforms is the social media (Healey, 2011). Were it not for the mass media; some information may not be well delivered to the intended person(s). In fact, in some instances; the social media has helped families reunite after long periods of separation.
Business has also been easy to operate via social media networks. According to Trottier (2015), organizations are making unprecedented efforts to ensure that they embrace the social media as a method of selling, reaching out the probable markets, as well as advertising their new and existing products. The market is intense on the social media platform. These markets help organizations make a lot of profit since there are many people who are able and willing to purchase their goods. These online markets include Amazon and Zappos, which enable different parties to engage in conversations where they sell and buy goods.
Social Media and Crime
In addition to the many benefits attached to the emergence and popularity of the social media, there exist various problems associated with the social media platforms. Most of these challenges associate social media with criminal activities. Social media is known to have contributed a lot in exposing many users, especially young people, to too many risks such as pornography and crime. According to Healey (2011), the most commonly watched films are pornographic films. This has negatively affected the lives of many youths as they engage in immoral behavior such as cyber crime, robberies, and other unacceptable actions.
Also, criminals have continued to gain take advantage of social media platforms to track probable dupes, from whom they later steal. They do this by closely following their deeds and movements. A case in point is the recent robbery against the famous Kim Kardashian. Also, information about businesses is clearly announced in social media where criminals can follow and get the basis to steal (Healey, 2011). As a result, many deaths and massive destruction of property are witnessed as criminals carry out their activities. The criminals are even able to hack into bank accounts of tycoons.
Posting information is the major intention of using any social media platform, though what matters most is the type of information to be put across. According to Healey (2011), the information turns out to be a crime when false or threatening information is posted or passed through various social networking platforms. Prosecutions can be the next thing to happen if such misleading information appears on social media. For example, when a fatal shooting of twenty-six people at Sand Hook Elementary school happened in the US, twenty of whom were young children, some people took to the social media including tweeter claiming to be the shooters and others mimicking this crime, and this appeared threatening (Benson, 2016). Everyone is advised to be cautious when posting any information on social media because it can result in imprisonment. Some individuals post a message as a joke, unaware that it is a big problem if it threatens the security of other human beings. Moreover, fraudulent and identity theft has been a rising crime in social media, where fraudulent transactions are sparked in social media platforms, only for the victim to realize too late, after payments have been made, that the transactions were not real (Trottier, 2015). This leads to losses and hatred among the transacting parties.
The popularity of social media has attracted gangs. According to Benson (2016), about 81% of the crime which is initiated on the internet, the social media is involved. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are used to propagate crime. These sites are common sources for gangs to obtain information from unsuspecting people. Most of the cybercrimes include fraud and phishing schemes. Research by Benson (2016) indicates that one in every five adults is a major target of cybercrime, and that there are over one million victims of cybercrime every day. In the United States of America, the cyber crime has cost the country about $100 billion to $1 trillion per year (Trottier, 2015). As a result, cybercrime causes financial damage to the country yet this money can be used in other fields in an attempt to raise the living standards of the citizens. The government is determined to end the reckless actions of the criminals to ensure economic development of the country.
Despite the fact that social media is associated with various criminal activities, it may be one of the best platforms to deal with, reduce, monitor, bring crime to an end, and act as an investigative tool in curbing crime. Jobist and Meinel (2013) argue that it is possible to trace criminals during their communication. Although some of the social media platforms ensure privacy and no one can view the conversation among a certain group of people, investigators are usually allowed to view those chats that are related to crime (Dingli, 2012).
The social media has offered great assistance in police investigations and interrogations on various crimes, and positive progress has been realized through the same media platforms (Jobist & Meinel, 2013). CCTV footage, for example, that revealed the Melbourne woman, Jill Menageries final instances, Facebook and YouTube helped in unearthing her killers (Trottier, 2015). Were it not for such technology; the investigation would have been an uphill task since the act was not supposed to be exposed since it could cause shock to the family, relatives, and friends.
Social media has significantly aided the police with a quick and unprecedented access to information from the general public, through such platforms as Facebook and Twitter. The citizens can pass information about occurrences and crisis to the police very fast, in actual time and accurately (Dingli, 2012). Appropriate actions are taken to solve the issue on time. This mostly happens if the police stations are far and one would want to communicate an emergency. The strategy works very well in platforms which are open, and everyone can view so as to assist in any way. Even if the information is not delivered to the police immediately, well-wishers pass it faster to other mass media groups until the endangered people are rescued.
Social media circulation and broadcasting of criminal trials have increased the level of transparency to criminal proceedings and court rulings (Dingli, 2012). Live tweeting, for instance, ensures open justice. A post or photo of a wanted criminal can easily be transmitted to the citizens with ease. The citizens can then report the wanted person upon sight. This has made the work of investigation agents easier, since they receive information from different parts of the world, and act accordingly. Also, criminals fear to be sighted on social media; hence, they often try to hide their identity. This may lead to a drop in criminal activities since many criminals will hide and as a result, some may transform since they fear negative sanctions by both the society and the court.
Despite the fact that the social media has contributed to crime, it can be utilized as an investigative tool for crime. It can be used to identify suspects and criminals (Dingli, 2012). Suspects can be picked out when they brag about their deeds or post the crimes they intend to undertake. It then becomes possible to trace them, have them arrested, prosecuted or their crime plans aborted. However, this information is not always reliable because criminals may post such a message on social media to attract the attention investigators, police or government agents, with the aim of frustrating them.
Additionally, social media can help to track and identify the locations of criminals at a certain time. A post on Facebook, as aforementioned, can be used to track down a criminal. Since criminals are sometimes not aware that they are being tracked, they end up getting arrested (Dingli, 2012). Also, different links and networks between gang members can easily be identified. Based on how they converse on social media, the activities of certain gang members can be found out and the necessary actions are taken to combat impending crime and destroy the links and networks of such gangs.
Evidence against a suspect, for an offense such as murder, can be gathered through the social media, based on some information that a suspect may have posted. The information may incriminate the person; hence, acting as sufficient ground to serve as evidence even in the court of law Jobist & Meinel (2013). Such a post is investigated, and if any incriminating evidence is identified, the investigator may follow the suspect and watch them keenly until they confirm by getting information that shows that the suspect is guilty.
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