The number of crimes involving Facebook and Twitter is rising rapidly in the UK; figures released by police have shown. Police received more reports of threatening behaviour involving social media websites in 2014 compared with the previous year.
There was a significant rise in the number of Facebook-related crimes, with the Metropolitan Police receiving over 1,200 reports compared to 935 in 2013 and 997 the previous year.
Police believe that the rise comes as a result of social media websites now being a large part of everyday life.
“I think, quite simply, it is because everyone is using technology now… and it’s part of everyone’s everyday life,” said DCI Tonya Antonis from the Norfolk and Suffolk cyber-crime unit.
She stressed the importance of social-media related crime victims being able to speak up and report the incidents to the police.
“It’s important to victims of crime that they have the confidence in coming forward and reporting to us and important for us to have an opportunity to investigate it and bring offenders to justice,” she said.
Social media use has led to issues such as racial abuse and there are fears that crime will continue to increase as more people use sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“Facebook and Twitter are a great platform for communication and instant technology like the news, but it is also an easy gateway for this to happen,” commented a student from a six-form college in Ipswich, where a fellow student suffered racial abuse online.
Areas where social-media related crimes have risen include Manchester and Essex. Essex police received 432 crime reports involving Facebook in 2014, which was double the amount of crimes from the previous year.
Supt Paul Giannasi of the National Policing Chiefs’ Council commented on the problem of social-media crimes, stating that police and internet providers have the responsibility of protecting people from online abuse.
He urged victims to come forward and report any social-media abuse, stating, “Anyone who feels that they are being harassed on social media should report it to police via the dedicated True Vision website so that we can investigate it fully.”
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