The NYPD has formed a new social media unit, The New York Daily News reports, to catch criminals who use Facebook and Twitter to announce law-breaking plans or to brag about their latest crime.
In June, an overcrowded house party in East New York, Brooklyn that was advertised on Facebook as "Freaky Friday" ended in a shooting that left one man dead and seven injured.
After that incident Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters "We look at social networking. We’re very much focused on weekend parties, the type of parties that happened last weekend, and we visit them ahead of time. But not every one of these parties happen at a place we can readily identify... Our gang division, our borough personnel look at party advertisements. A lot of these things are at peoples’ apartments."
In March, 18-year-old Anthony Collao was killed in an anti-gay attack at a Woodhaven, Queens, house party advertised on Facebook. Calvin Pietri, one of six later arrested, bragged about the murder on Facebook.
NY1 asked New Yorkers in June what they thought of cops snooping around on Facebook and Twitter. One said, "If it is going to help cut down on the homicides, then I guess I’m for it," while another lamented, "I really do think it is an invasion of privacy."
The relationship between mayhem and social media was brought into focus this week as violent riots spreading across London were coordinated via Twitter and Blackberry messages.