‘Flash Robs’ Vex Retailers

I read this article at the end of last week. I think it represents a darker side of social media and an interesting phenomenon during “flash mob” popularity.  Apparently teenagers and young adults have found Facebook and Twitter useful tools for plotting large scale department store robberies, a.k.a “flash robs”. I hope you enjoy the article.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203752604576643422390552158.html

I have some questions as, or if, these types of abusive uses of social media continue to rise with the increased popularity social media.  Where does the responsibility for these types of issues fall?  Should sites like Twitter and Facebook be held liable for conspirators using their services to communicate? Should the users be apprehended before they commit crimes, and how do we monitor them with such large user bases around the world? Or does the responsibility fall on these department stores to be more prepared for potential “flash rob” threats?

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One thought on “‘Flash Robs’ Vex Retailers

  1. I don’t think anyone would think that social media sites are in someway responsible for these robberies, but a small part of me is concerned over various privacy concerns. Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc all have access to the messages that are sent so do they have a responsibility to alert authorities over messages they deem at the very least conspiring to commit a criminal act? The rational person in me thinks no for many reasons, but it’s a thought.

    I think this is really just an example of how communication has changed in the last 5-10 years. It’s not like the idea of people rushing a department store didn’t exist in 1973, so the risks are what they always were. It’s just an ease of planning these crimes that has people concerned.

    Far more alarming to me is how new technology helped the riots in London continue on for days. People sending BBM messages over public airwaves (or at least cell towers) could be intercepted by law enforcement officials. If acts as severe as that are assisted by mass technology than I’d be concerned for the sanctity of the service provider.

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