Aug 172011

The recent story about a flash mob in Maryland robbing a store may spur a reassessment of the role of social networks in society. The quick summary is that a group of kids came into a 7-11 in Germantown, MD after organizing on the Internet and robbed the store in about a minute, and then left at the same time. The details are still sketchy and there would need to be evidence that social networking platforms were used. But it’s possible and it appears they have been used for criminal gatherings in Philadelphia.

Of course, technology is neutral and just as telephones are used for illegal actions, so will every platform on the Web. But if this becomes widespread, the early optimism over the positive aspects of social networks may become a tough sell in the face of a fearful public. I’m not drawing any conclusions here but watch this trend carefully and the way it plays out on the mainstream media. And remember, crime is never about the actual statistics, but about the public perception of criminal activity. Here’s the video of what the LA Times referred to as a “mellow but still criminal” event:


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