The effects of social media are many, but there are clear times when it serves as a boon to society. In Philadelphia, on Tuesday, social media users responded to a video posted by the Philadelphia Police Department, helping the detectives find a suspect in rapid fashion. During the Ferguson conflict, live tweeting of the shooting and the subsequent protests helped bring about a rapid and powerful online and in-person response. A recent survey taken by LexisNexis Risk Solutions found that 67 percent of police officers believe social media helps solve crimes more quickly.
Although abuses of privacy through police power exist, we can all appreciate when law enforcement utilizes modern resources in an ethical and effective manner. Be aware that you can be a part of an investigation, helping officers keep our society safe by using social media to bring about a more rapid and effective response. Watch for crimes as they happen, and help yourself tap into the response network by following local law enforcement and other public services attempting to serve and protect. Through a community wide effort, we can together keep ourselves and the public at large safe and sound.