Politicians have been using social media to promote themselves and communicate with constituents for a while now–Yesterday, the White House joined Foursquare!–but government recently is turning to social media to monitor its citizens and crowdsource law enforcement. Scotland Yard is accepting anonymous tips about the riots in England via Facebook; the New York Police Dept. has created a new unit to monitor Facebook, Myspace and Twitter for status updates announcing plans for crimes or bragging about past acts.
Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC said: “We have vast powers available to us through the proceeds of crime legislation and I am delighted that this new initiative will allow people to use social media to report anonymously those who they see flaunting ill-gotten gains before them.”
England’s Metropolitan Police are also using Flickr to post pictures of the London rioters, hoping to crowdsource their identification:
Operation Withern is investigating the serious disorder and violence that has been affecting parts of London.
Operation Withern’s priority is to bring to justice those who have committed violent and criminal acts. As the detailed and thorough investigation progresses we will be issuing photographs of people we want to speak with.
Creepy or efficient? What do you think?