Facebook, on its own, isn’t dangerous. Despite the fact that we occasionally hear stories about stalkings, harassment, child predation, theft, and many more crimes involving the social network, you have to remember that Facebook is just that: a social network. It connects people together, but in order for any of those connections to be malicious in any way, at least one of the persons involved in the connection has to have some untoward intent.
In short, Facebook doesn’t make people look like idiots. Idiots make idiots look like idiots. Facebook, since its inception, has simply been there to to a splendid job highlighting the biggest morons around the world. And oh what a job it has done.
As you hopefully know by now, I love Facebook idiots (n. A person(s) who engages in idiotic (usually criminal) behavior and uses Facebook to brag, promote, or explain said activity). The universe gives me little presents every few weeks wrapped in little pink bows that read “shit-for-brains,” and I laugh and cry in some odd mixture of schadenfreude and deep, depressing sadness for the human race.
Just in the last year, I’ve told you about the guy who logged into Facebook before robbing an internet cafe. That didn’t end well for him. What about the Einstein who took a bunch of pictures while stealing gas from a cop car and proceeding to post them publicly on Facebook? He made me feel better about myself. Remember our two genius husbands, not more than a few months apart, one who punched his wife in the face for not liking his status and the other who called 911 when his wife wouldn’t let him browse his news feed in peace?
There are so many more where that came from, but I wouldn’t want to kill your total faith in our civilization.
So, why do I bring up Facebook idiots? Because apparently, people are using Facebook as either the tool or as an accomplice for crime even more than I imagined.
According to figures released by half the police forces in England and Wales, there’s a crime involving Facebook reported to them every 40 minutes. That’s right, the folks across the pond can’t collectively go an hour without doing something stupid involving Facebook. I don’t expect that our figures in the States would be any better.
In all, they reported 12,300 alleged offenses involving Facebook last year alone. It’s important to note that the report says “alleged offenses,” so presumably some of these didn’t pan out.
According to the numbers, Facebook was cited as relevant to cases involving murder, rape, assault, child exploitation, witness intimidation, and death threats. Most of the cases stemmed from allegations of intimidation, or cyberbullying, however.
Some of my Facebook idiot stories sound a bit tame compared to those about people using the network to facilitate child rape, murder, and the like. Then again, I do seem to recall being shocked at one of the most intricate sexual exploitation plots I’ve ever heard of playing out on Facebook just a few months ago.
But my previous point remains. Hate the player, I guess. Although Facebook can facilitate idiotic (and even more harmful) crime, social media can’t be the enemy. Recently, we told you about the rumor that Facebook is possibly opening up the site to kid under the age of thirteen. I’m sure that figures like this will be cited by opponents. In the end, a large majority of these types of crimes can be avoided on the victim’s end by some simple measures to ensure privacy and if the victim is a little bit younger, some much-needed intervention from a parent.