Hyper-Local Social Media and Reporting Crime

Please Keep Our Neighbourhood Clean

The intersection of “place”, social media and intelligence gathering continues to get more interesting.

Recently law enforcement has been turning more and more to hyper-local social media to get information on crime that has occurred in local neighbourhoods. The citizenry of the neighbourhoods are reporting the incidents on these forums and in some cases reporting the incidents to police.

In other cases, police are simply paying attention to what is happening on these forums.

Nextdoor, Nabo and others are examples of these types of social media which attempt to restrict access to their sites to individuals who are only from a given specific geographic area. The content that is posted there is hyper-local to the neighbourhood and it can include information on crimes that have been committed in the neighbourhood.

Geography certainly increases the relevance of the content. These seem like a cross between the neighbourhood gazette and crime stoppers; however there are problems that can arise from these forums if they aren’t designed and monitored properly. For example Yik Yak became known as the go-to venue for cyber-bullies due to the anonymity it provides. In other cases there have been concerns about racial discrimination in the type of reporting that goes on within on the neighbourhood forums. Anonymity is often a primary driver of the inappropriate content. Weak policies by the websites themselves are also often to blame.