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The contemporary impact of social media on criminal behaviour in Australia

Social media, an invention hailed for its potential to democratise information and connect the world, has also become a conduit for unforeseen consequences, particularly in the realm of criminal behaviour. The intrinsic nature of social media, which thrives on attention and notoriety, has inadvertently fostered a landscape where criminal activities are not only showcased but, in many cases, glamorized.

At its core, social media platforms are designed to reward content that garners attention. This fundamental design has a significant psychological impact, particularly among younger users. The desire for social recognition and fame, previously a dream for many, is now seemingly within grasp through platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. However, this allure of instant fame often blurs the line between lawful attention-seeking and criminal notoriety.

There have been several instances where individuals have turned to crime, or the exhibition of criminal behaviour, to gain social media fame. A notable example includes the case of a group of teenagers in Melbourne who live-streamed their reckless driving and evasion of police, only to be apprehended later. Another is the notorious Jovi boys in the Top End of Australia who have garnered over 8.3 billion collective views on Tik Tok. Such instances underscore how social media can act as a catalyst, encouraging individuals to engage in risky and unlawful behaviours under the guise of gaining followers, likes and profit.

Beyond the lure of notoriety, social media has also become a tool for criminals. Platforms that are designed to share personal information inadvertently provide criminals with the data necessary for crimes like identity theft, stalking, and home burglaries. In Sydney, a spate of burglaries was linked to social media posts, where thieves targeted the homes of individuals who posted about their vacations, clearly indicating that their houses were unoccupied.

Moreover, social media platforms have been used to coordinate and execute criminal activities. For instance, organised retail thefts in Adelaide were orchestrated through private social media groups, demonstrating how these platforms can facilitate criminal coordination on a scale previously unattainable.

Social media's structure often creates echo chambers, reinforcing and amplifying beliefs and behaviours. For individuals with criminal tendencies, this can result in the normalisation and even glorification of criminal behaviour. Encountering others who share and endorse these behaviours leads to an escalation in criminal activities, as these actions are perceived as more acceptable or even admirable within these online communities.

It's important to acknowledge that social media is not solely a facilitator of crime. Law enforcement agencies and security personnel have increasingly turned to these platforms as tools for solving crimes. The public nature of social media allows for the collection of evidence and the solicitation of community help in identifying suspects. For instance, the Victoria Police and the Northern Territory Police have successfully used social media to track down and arrest individuals involved in rioting, looting and common theft. The use of facial recognition software on the internet in conjunction with CCTV footage from security camera's has provided the names for trespass orders from major shopping centers in the NT.

The rise of social media has undeniably altered the landscape of criminal behaviour. The pursuit of fame and recognition on these platforms leads to an increase in criminal activities as individuals seek notoriety in the digital realm. However, social media is a double-edged sword; while it can facilitate criminal behaviour, it also offers new avenues for crime prevention and law enforcement.

In Australia, the examples discussed highlight the need for a nuanced understanding of how social media impacts criminal behaviour. As these platforms continue to evolve, so too must our approaches to understanding and mitigating the risks they pose. It is a delicate balance between embracing the positives of connectivity and guarding against the insidious ways it can fuel criminal behaviour. From the author.

The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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