Social media could help police maintain peace and order.
Researchers at Cardiff University analysed 1.6 million tweets relevant to the 2011 London riots. In the town of Enfield, police received reports of disorder an hour and 23 minutes after computer systems could have picked up the same information from Twitter, according to the study.
“In this research, we show that online social media are becoming the go-to place to report observations of everyday occurrences — including social disorder and terrestrial criminal activity,” said co-author of the study, Dr Pete Burnap.
He added that, while the study demonstrates that new technologies can be leveraged to support “more established policing methods,” social media will “never” replace traditional resources.
Social media has increasingly been used by the police in crime fighting efforts. In 2013, police turned to social media and called for the public to submit information about the Boston Marathon Bombing to aid in investigation. More recently, in Thailand, the Immigration Bureau received a tip-off from the Line messaging app in May, which led to the arrest of two Vietnamese suspected of overstaying their visas. In New Hampshire, a video posted to Facebook by the police earned them “dozens of tips” that helped identify a suspect in a crime, it was reported last week.
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