Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter have, over the past four years, have become platforms for criminal activities. Police figures show that complaints of crime involving the two renowned social sites have increased 780 percent in just four years.
Statistics made available by 29 police forces in England, Wales and Scotland under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that only 556 reports were made to police during the year. This year however, the number has rapidly increased and statistics show that there were 4908 offences in which both Facebook and Twitter were contributory factors.
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According to Chief Constable Andy Trotter, leader of communication at the Association of Chief Police Officers, these findings presents a new challenge altogether. Trotter believes that police will have to draw a line between curbing general harm on social media and infringing the freedom of expression. “It is important that forces prioritize social networking crimes which cause genuine harm, rather than attempting to curb freedom of expression,” he contended. Trotter further added that he feared the new technological advancements would culminate into a situation where each police force would be compelled to have an exclusive twitter squad; a situation that he argues would be difficult in light of trying financial times.
Police forces were prompted to reveal the number of crime reports that were primary fuelled by either Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) or Twitter. Last year alone, 650 people were charged. The number increased slightly to 653 this year. This year’s number is huge when compared to 2008 where only 46 people were charged with cases connected to the sites. An area that has has been hit with crime is Manchester. Manchester Police charged a record 115 people, topping the list with the highest number of charges.
Harassing And Menacing Have Become Commonplace
Among the forces that revealed detailed breakdowns of their crime reports, harassing and menacing were found to the most common of crimes on both the social sites. This evident in Tayside, where of the 66 reports, 44 were found to be menacing or obscene messages.
While stalking, and menacing messages seem to be the order of the day, Lancashire Police reveal that they received 6 threats of murder. These reports include Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) murder involving Dutch victim Joyce ‘Winsie’. The murder, which was solved back in September, was reported to have been fuelled by an argument on Facebook.