YouTube: Cracking Down On Crime

    December 15, 2006

Ontario police use the popular video sharing site YouTube to help catch a killer.

Video sharing and social networking site YouTube is having a banner year. First Google acquired the company for $1.65 billion and now the site is being used to help put criminals behind bars.

Hamilton, Ontario police Staff Sgt. Jorge posted a one-minute long clip of a surveillance video on YouTube, in the hopes that the site’s 50 million viewers could aid in the identification of a killer.

The clip features “two people of interest” who are suspected in the murder of a 22 year-old man at a hip-hop concert. Viewers of the site must be eager to assist the police, as the clip was been viewed more than 2, 000 times since it was uploaded.

For Jorge, posting the video on YouTube made sense because of the fact that the age demographic of possible witnesses at the concert was congruent to YouTube’s average viewer.

“Our target demographic, the age group of people who was present at that concert, is the same age group of people who has made a habit out of watching YouTube and chatting online.”

Police realize the popularity of social networking sites, and that if criminals are using the Internet they can probably also be tracked through it.

Although social networking and video sharing sites are considered to contain largely humorous and entertaining content, criminals should not discount their ability to be taken seriously. In fact, YouTube videos were used as evidence in the case of two Los Angeles police officers using excessive force during an arrest.

Posting clips on sites such as YouTube or using a social networking site is a two way street. Police are using them to their advantage in searching for clues about the identities of suspects, and to search for criminals broadcasting their crimes.

That was the case in Philadelphia, where a fugitive was arrested after police tracked him through his MySpace account that he checked at a public library.

In another case, a man in Norway was fined after the police found a clip on YouTube of him driving his car recklessly and blatantly exceeding the speed limit.

Knowing that using social networking and video sharing sites are extremely useful in the identification and apprehension of suspects, police should consider utilizing them more often in the future. On the opposite end of the spectrum, criminals should realize that if they broadcast there whereabouts they are more likely to be found.

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Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.