Twitter Twitterverse: A Social Space Capturing Crime

Twitter, Twitterverse, technology, social media, crime

Twitter’s Twitterverse is not just a place for harmless Tweeting between friends and following popular brands – the social media site has also become the go-to social space capturing crime-related activity which are being reported over media news.

Tragic Death in India

Just two days ago on Friday, it was reported that Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor, the wife of an Indian government minister, was discovered dead in New Delhi. Her death came after a public Twitter feud with a woman who she thought was stalking and having an affair with her husband. According to Abhinav Kumar, the personal assistant to the minister, there were no signs of foul play, poisoning or otherwise.

Prior to her death, the very public row between the two women had gone viral on Twitter’s twitterverse and onto the front pages of local newspapers, capturing the escalating argument in the social space leading up to the crime.

Mehr Tarar, the journalist whom Tharoor accused of having the affair, vehemently denied any involvement with the minister and retaliated by saying she would pursue legal action against the publicly-occurring defamation.

Sunanda Tharoor was formerly a UN diplomat who had over two million Twitter followers. Following her death, Tarar tweeted once again, this time about her shock over the tragedy – and her hopes that Sunanda would rest in peace.

Arrests in the UK

In the UK, news broke today about two men who were arrested following their racist tweets which were tracked by the Police Scotland, surrounding the mysterious disappearance of a three-year old toddler. The two men, one in his late teens and the other in his late-twenties, were arrested and questioned before being released on bail terms.

A young child’s body believed to be the missing person of interest – Mikaeel Kular – was found yesterday at the back of a bungalow in Kirkcaldy, Fife. The child’s mother, Rosdeep Kular, is currently being detained by the police.

According to the Scotland Police, any sort of posted comments online reflecting racist, offensive or comments would be thoroughly investigated.

Twitter’s “Citizen Involvement” Helps Fight Crime

Twitter’s social space is being lauded by police enforcement agencies as being helpful in solving various crime cases. In particular with the Twitterverse, the avenue of citizen involvement has been particularly helpful to police in receiving real-time crime-related tips. In one case, the police in Medford uploaded photos of a trailer theft to Twitter and Facebook, and quickly received tips that allowed them to track down and arrest the three thieves and return the stolen trailer, valued at $8,000, to its rightful owner.

The investigation, buoyed along by the tips from social media as well as phone calls lead to the successful arrests within a 24-hour time span of the trailer being stolen.

Twitter’s effectiveness in fighting crime has not gone unnoticed as organizations such as Crime Stoppers have joined the social media trend with their own Twitter handle, @CStoppers.

Twitter’s Double Edged Sword

Twitter’s ability to help fight crime is also a double-edged sword, as it has also become a go-to social space for criminals to boast about their criminal activities and communicate their propaganda to a widespread audience. According to USA today, one of the most shocking examples occurred last year, when an extremist group live-tweeted a Kenyan mall siege. The extremists threatened further violence, directing their taunts towards the military and acknowledging their role in the mass slaughter.

Twitter’s social role in capturing crime-related activity has come a long way from its origins back in 2006, and as the space of the Twitterverse continues to expand, it remains to be seen what multi-pronged edges it still has yet to develop.

By Joscelyne Yu


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