Social media has become an integral part of many people’s lives today, for better or worse. While some people love how it connects them to their communities (or to the Kardashians and other celebrity favorites), others see it as one of society’s biggest disappointments. It’s a polarizing topic for sure, especially when you think about the implications it has on our culture.
For example, how has social media affected crime? Is it making crime rates worse, or is it improving things?
Or…is it creating a darker, more suspicious world for everyone, even the innocent?
Social Media’s Role in Crime
Whether you think social media has increased crime or not, there’s no denying that it has changed the way we experience and view crime. Just think about how many times you have seen crime-related articles in your social feeds. Of course, that’s nothing new – the famous newsroom slogan “If it bleeds, it leads,” has been around for more than a century. But never have we had the information so readily at our fingertips.
Social media has become an outlet for crime to be chronicled. Local crimes have been skyrocketed to national headlines by tens of thousands of people retweeting, “liking,” and sharing stories across multiple platforms. We are more involved with crime than ever before. Often, this can work to a defendant’s disadvantage – the public will judge him or her guilty before any trial takes place!
Evolution of Crime
Crime has evolved alongside social media’s ever-changing landscape. Old forms of crime have been given new flair. With many eyes scanning their feeds, some people view this as an opportunity to be seen. Thus, a new form of “performance crime” has appeared.
People have taken to social media to brag about their illegal activities and even narrate them. CBS has an interesting list of crimes that involved social media. Take New Jersey resident Sam Moeller as an example. Before illegally sneaking into a music festival without a ticket, he posted what he thought was an informational “how to” video, describing how he broke in. The video, of course, led to his arrest.
On an even darker note, disgruntled exes have posted intimate photos and videos of their former partners online as a form of revenge, causing serious damage—both emotional and financial. After all, anyone can post anything online, and some gullible people will believe it. In the complex Michelle Hadley case, this nearly cost one innocent woman her freedom!
Needless to say, the less you post online, the safer you’ll be. People can turn almost anything against you, and prosecutors and police specialize in grabbing information from suspects’ social media to condemn them.
So, Has Social Media Made Crime Worse?
On the surface, it seems that social media has exacerbated crime to new heights – and created a culture of “guilty in the court of public opinion.” But has it made crime worse? Certain new crimes emerge – like cyberbullying and Internet-based child pornography – but they are just variations of old ones. We also must consider how social media has helped solve some crimes and even added a new form of surveillance that hasn’t existed before. While social media and our interconnected online world may not “increase” crime, they do increase condemnation, so be careful in this brave new world.
If you believe you need criminal defense, you will need a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer at your side. At the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, our founding attorney is rated as one of the nation’s top attorneys by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. If you need legal help, call us toll-free at (888) 478-8999.