by Carlo Longino

YouTube Doesn't Encourage Crime, But It Might Help Solve It

from the soundbites-r-us dept

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2007 @ 11:34am

    Potential for Good

    Perhaps the time has come for a spin-off site: YouBusted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Rose, Jan 17th, 2007 @ 11:41am

    AH yes...

    Politicians in search of a re-election platform...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Loki, Jan 17th, 2007 @ 1:22pm


    I think this may have just inspired me to push this sort of aproach here in New Orleans. Everyone has a cameraphone these days and out police/government are obviously unequal to the task.

    Thanks for the thought!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    B_Billy, Jan 17th, 2007 @ 1:31pm

    Long Island...

    There was a story in today's Newsday here on Long Island about the same sort of thing. Some 13 YO girls taped themselves beating up another girl and uploaded to YouTube. The girls were IDed by that video. Supposedly, it's "the thing to do" for teenagers these days. Personally, they should beat the parents of these kids. Here's a link to the article... http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-libeat175055393jan17,0,4841672.story?c oll=ny-sports-headlines

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    another, Jan 17th, 2007 @ 1:46pm

    Do you really believe that YouTube does not encourage this type of behavior? The networks learned that if they didn't show the idiots that ran on to the field during a sporting event, fewer idiots ran onto the field.

    Does it stop them all? Of course not, but it did reduce the numbers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Rui, Jan 17th, 2007 @ 1:59pm

    same thing happened here in Portugal: some kids were trashing cars, they taped it and posted it to youtube... they were eventually caught by the police, using the footage as a proof.

    anyway, i do believe that youtube can encourage crime, the sameway a normal television channel does. kids have a tendency to copy what they see on tv, thats not new to anybody...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2007 @ 2:26pm

    This is just as pathetic as gun control. The guns do not kill people. People kill people. The problem is not the guns, and never has been. They are simply a means to an end. Same with YouTube. Any technology, no matter what it is, can be used for bad things. If you banned everything that caused us harm in some fashion, you'd have to pretty much ban all of existence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Gavin Quinn, Jan 17th, 2007 @ 3:06pm

    Another device to help fight crime

    I think this site may be able to help fight crime as well. When we can easily put stories onto a map, we can then search them and know details about an area. http://www.grapheety.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Jan 17th, 2007 @ 5:01pm

    Stupid Kids

    I personally don't see a problem with any idiot uploading evidence of a crime they committed to the net, since it can only help them get convicted. MAybe the police should upload security camera footage of crimes, and ask for people to ring up or visit a police station if they recognise the person, possibly for a reward if htey give usefull information. HTe system must require some effort on the part of the viewers to reduce the numbers of false reports which would be entered on a web form.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    security, Jan 17th, 2007 @ 8:01pm

    Two Points

    1- If that store had a Cctv Dvr Surveillance Recorder the owners could have posted their own videos on YouTube - so blaming YouTube is absurd.

    2- Unfortunately, about those Social Networking sites that this incriminating video was posted on with the added information - not one of the other members or viewers felt compelled to tip the police about it on their own accord.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    benji, Jan 17th, 2007 @ 9:07pm

    Re: Potential for Good

    YOUbusted...i like it..instead of posting your vulgar videos on Youtube...just post 'em on youbusted...i like it...i like it alot..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Nathan, Feb 8th, 2007 @ 11:24am

    No problem with it

    I have no problem if people put incriminating videos on youtube. Violence is all over televison already at least now these violent of illegal activites can become useful as evidence after being posted on Youtube or other video hosting sites. As you have seen surveillance has played a part in these reported cases.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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