Social networking and the hoodlum

Twitter may have had a role to play in the rioting in looting that took place over the weekend in London, some officials say.

Last night, police battled rioters and looters in several areas of London after a man was shot and killed by police in the northern suburb of Tottenham.

“The police are ahead of the curve in information technology and would have experience of the use of social- networking sites by troublemakers,” Steve O’Connell, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, which monitors London’s Metropolitan Police Service, told Bloomberg News. “The bad guys were using these sites to target areas quickly. Small bands of ne’er-do- wells were descending on high-quality stores to loot.”

Where would ne’er-do-wellers learn such a thing?

Maybe in the USA.

Since late last spring, Chicago authorities, for example, have been trying to combat flash mobs of crooks and thugs who’ve used social networking to coordinate their attacks and stay one step ahead of the cops.

Today, the mayor of Philadelphia warned parents that they’d be held responsible for the flash mob ne’er-do-welling by their kids.

“It is your responsibility to know where they are, what they are doing and who they are with. They are your children. You need to raise them. You are responsible for them,” Mayor Michael Nutter said while announcing a curfew for kids.

He said parents who are called to pick up a child breaking curfew will be issued a warning on the first occasion. On subsequent violations, fines can increase to $500.

“The fascinating thing about technology is that once we open the door, it’s going to move in ways that we can’t always predict and are slow to control, because we are reacting rather than [being] proactive,” Scott Decker, a criminal justice professor at Arizona State University in Tempe, told the Christian Science Monitor.

  • Chicago recently cracked down on their curfew laws as well due to the number of children getting killed by gun fights after hours. Not that they have the means to enforce it, but hopefully the press coverage will remind parents to have their children home at night.