The rising threat of organised crime on social media / Robert Muggah

Even as the digital revolution kicks into gear, there are signs everywhere of governments using new technologies to monitor and repress citizens. The revelations of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) sprawling spying programme are just the start. And it is not just Western governments that are spying on citizens in faraway places – surveillance has become a common practice around the world.

But governments don´t have a monopoly on the use of big data to monitor and anticipate threats. Private investment banks have extensive experience in this space, as have a growing cadre of digital humanitarians who are harnessing satellite and telecommunications data to help disaster victims. And now it seems crime syndicates, cartels and gangs are getting into the game. Some of them are quintessential early adopters; they canvass social media to identify and neutralize competitors, but also to manage public relations.

Crime in the spotlight

The involvement of drug-trafficking organizations online might strike the reader as odd, even counter-intuitive. After all, organized crime traditionally thrives in the shadows, far from the public gaze. Historically, crime groups invest in minimizing their public profile, not amplifying it. The internet is changing all that. Organizations as diverse as the ISIS and the Zeta Cartel are using cyberspace to shape opinion and elicit respect, fear and terror. SEE  MORE…



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