Human Rights

Stop-and-Frisk Replacement? NYPD Using Social Media Surveillance

NYPD says it will beef up efforts to monitor gang activity on-line.

After a federal judge ruled stop-and-frisk unconstitiutional, and Bill de Blasio triumphed in the Democratic mayoral primary in part by running against Mayor Bloomberg favorite police tactic, the NYPD was forced to come up with a new plan.

The New York Times is reporting that the NYPD has apparently pumped up their social  media monitoring as a tactic to essentially replace stop-and-frisk. According to the NYT article, published early yesterday, 30-percent of shootings over the past several years can be connected to youth gangs, and Facebook posts sometimes can tip off a potential threat.

The NYPD reported claims that people involved in gang activity often threaten people or boast about their various illicit activities on the social media platform, which gave the department the ability to thwart a potentially violence incident earlier this year. The tactic, known as "Operation Crew Cut", is being relied on more and more heavily, and has found a surprising array of supporters, including Bill De Blasio.

This is sure to prompt the already loaded questions regarding internet privacy and government surveillance, and it would seem to run the risk of ensnaring harmless teenagers who just might post something dumb, but not truly threatening. But for now, the NYPD is going full tilt on the new surveillance technique. 

Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.