It seems almost inevitable that with any new technology or application that comes along, eventually it will get blamed for causing violent or criminal behavior of people, even though their own stupidity is usually to blame. YouTube has been no exception -- although it's also proving to be a useful tool for law enforcement officers hoping to solve crimes. Earlier, some Canadian police had put surveillance footage from a murder case up on the site, and it helped lead to an arrest. Now, Jim Hughes points out a case in Scotland where a group of kids trashed an Edinburgh Burger King, then one of the geniuses videotaped it with his cameraphone and posted the footage on YouTube. The story made the city's newspaper, along with the requisite line from a politician condemning YouTube and saying it "saddens" him that it's allowed to show these videos that glorify violence. Of course, the police have a slightly different take, saying that the evidence the buffoons upload to YouTube and other sites themselves can prove very valuable, not least because it gives them an opportunity to identify the culprits. Readers of the Edinburgh paper also did some detective work of their own, easily figuring out the kid's name from his YouTube username and finding his pages on other social-networking sites, which also featured the video and information about his fellow criminals. Obviously blaming the technology (and absolving individuals of any responsibility) isn't right -- and the calls to ban YouTube or whatever is the political talking point du jour could actually end up taking away a valuable tool for police, rather than actually doing anything to stop crime.
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