Gangs use Facebook to recruit, intimidate

Gangs use Facebook to recruit, intimidate

December 14th, 2011 by The Tennessean in Local - Breaking News

Police and prosecutors have been attuned to social media sites for years. But gangs' increasing reliance on social media and mobile cellphone technology is making their jobs harder, said Rob McGuire, a Davidson County assistant district attorney general who works with Metro's gang unit. Illustration by Ben Buckner.

Police and prosecutors have been attuned to social...

Photo by The Tennessean /Times Free Press.

As Nashville police investigated the murder of Jeremy Green, they took to the streets, interviewed witnesses and turned to a different source that is quickly becoming routine in gang investigations: Facebook.

As social media gain prominence in everyday life, police are finding it a useful tool for tracking criminal activity. Gang members often publish photos of themselves holding money, guns and drugs. But while criminals haven't been shy about publishing their exploits for the Internet to see, authorities here and across the nation are seeing gangs in particular begin to use social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to organize their activities and recruit new members.

"I think it's the new reality. It's the new reality for every person with the Internet and this different social media. I don't think it's going to be a flash," said Lt. Gordon Howey, who heads Metro police's gang unit. "I don't ever see it going away. I think that with Facebook, Twitter, all this different social media, I think they'll still continue to use it."

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