Attention criminals, would-be criminals, rioters, gang members and all who are of interest to local police departments: Social media is public - really really public.
And while services like Facebook and Twitter are wonderful platforms for fast, large-scale communication and mobilization, it turns out they are also wonderful for getting yourself busted.
I'm quite fond of social media fails when it comes to people and their run-ins with the law. In the past, I've told you about the genius who used live Facebook updates to document his crimes during the Vancouver riots as well as the fugitive who posted a Facebook status taunting officers to arrest him and giving a location of where they could find him.
This time, the police have used social media to shut down a possible situation before it ever happened.
According to the NY Daily News, dozens of suspected gang members were arrested in a Brooklyn park after the NYPD learned of their meeting via Twitter.
56 suspects in all were arrested, suspected to be part of the Crips. According to the police, most were dressed in the trademarked blue colors. Police recovered a 9mm handgun from the scene.
"We don't know exactly what their intentions were," said one law enforcement source with knowledge of the arrests. "But a gun was recovered. The potential for danger was there."
Apparently, the Crips members used Twitter to coordinate the meeting, what they called "Crips Holiday" on the social media service. Officers caught wind of the event via Twitter and interrupted the meeting before it could really begin.
Earlier this month, the NYPD announced the formation of a new unit devoted entirely to tracking criminal activity on social media outlets. That unit's goal is to stop criminal activity before it happens by monitoring chatter on Twitter and Facebook.
They also plan to patrol the sites for evidence from people "who announce plans or brag about their crimes."
According to the NY Daily News, there is no word on whether this new unit was involved in this operation to shut down the "Crips Holiday."
It probably won't be long until law enforcement departments all over the country begin to actively patrol social media for leads on criminal activity. For those trying to organize unlawful activity on Twitter and Facebook, it may become more of a risk than an asset.
Do you think this is an effective crime-fighting strategy? Let us know in the comments.