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The proliferation of social media platforms must be seen as an advantage when it comes to crime prevention. The value of these platforms, however, rests with the members of the group and the quality and confidentiality of information shared.
We’re living in an age in which citizens are invited to be active participants in the fight against crime. Knowledge is power when it comes to crime prevention and successes hinge on the sharing of intelligence, so harnessing the power of social media is imperative.
These platforms are, however, not without their challenges – the most common being the posting of unverified information (mostly hearsay or urban legends) which spread like wild fire and often create unwarranted panic.
The biggest benefit of these networks if used responsibly is that personal security and related issues are kept top of mind. Successes are also shared and this fosters goodwill between communities and those who are there to protect them.
Please avoid the below actions when using social media in the fight against crime:
- Don’t post any personal information.
- Don’t post irrelevant information (advertising, lost pets, road blocks, speed traps or any council issues).
- Don’t reply to a post with words such as “confirmed” or “thanks” or “received” once you’ve read a message.
- Don’t post unverified information. Crime warnings or tip-offs received from sources other than local authorities must be sent to the group administrator for verification.
- Don’t engage in argumentative comments or use foul language on the group.
- Don’t try to be a hero. Members of the public should never get involved in a potentially dangerous situation. Contact the SAPS or your private security company to investigate should you see anything suspicious.
Social media definitely has a role to play and it’s important that the community actively participates in crime prevention. However, in order to get the results we strive for, members of such groups need to be responsible and respectful at all times.