Crime 2.0

Tom Murphy links to a fantastic story about a creative bank robber who used Craigslist to recruit loads of people to act as decoys while he robbed a security truck.

“The robber had planned ahead. In case anyone was hot on his trail, he had at least a dozen unsuspecting decoys waiting nearby, which he recruited on Craigslist.”

The decoys were told to show up at a certain place and to wear a yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask and, if possible, a blue shirt. After the robbery, the entire street was full of people who fit the description of the purpetrator who could flee without getting caught.

This reminded me of an incident that recently happened in my neighbourhood. A guy that wanted to sell his car put up an ad on one of the Swedish online trading sites with a photo of the car. One morning a day or two later, he discovered that the entire back wing of the car was missing. Someone had apparently been looking online for a car not too far away, of that exact model with that colour, checked the license plate to find the owner’s address and gone and dismantled the part. See, isn’t internet great?

I’m just waiting for reports of shrewd criminals that monitor Twitter, Jaiku or Facebook to see reports like “I’m going out of town for the weekend. Ciao” and use the information to break into some poor geek’s house. It wouldn’t take a genious, that’s for sure.

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Careless whispers on Twitter

A few weeks ago, BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones blogged about the Scrabulous vs Scrabble hoopla on Facebook, in a light-hearted way, as he describes it. Not long after he had published the post he got a message from a follower on Twitter asking him “Why did you not mention Wordscraper?”, referring to another game. Cellan-Jones writes:

“I was a little irritated by this, as my piece was intended as a bit of fun rather than an exhaustive inquiry into the Scrabulous affair – which, after all, is hardly Watergate. So I Tweeted back: “cos I couldn’t be bothered”, and thought no more about it.”

The remark didn’t sit well with the Twitter ‘friend’ who wrote a lenghty blog post saying things like “Years from now, when British journalism has finally breathed its last, this phrase will be engraved on its tombstone.”

A few days later Cellan-Jones tweeted about a press release and described it as the “new leader in rubbish PR stunt of 08”. Apparently the PR person behind the release noticed the tweet and emailed Cellan-Jones with the comment “Got your feedback via Twitter. You cut me deep!!!”.

Social media services allow us to have more personal conversations with friends, or ‘friends’, but the personal nature doesn’t mean that conversations are private. The majority of our actions are in fact out in the public, open to anyone to view and respond to, and it might be wise to keep that in mind.

Better Business Blogging has a tongue-in-cheek post about how to avoid negative reactions in the blogosphere:

Avoid expressing an opinion – there is nothing worse than opinions to get people’s backs up and there’s also a high risk that someone, somewhere will disagree with them. You may find that sharing information carries these same risks as it opens the door for dialogue and discussion.
Make your posts as bland as possible – by reporting little of relevance or interest in your blog, you will successfully be reducing the number of people reading it. An added bonus is that nobody is likely to make the effort to engage in conversation by posting comments, positive or negative. Longer-term strategy but still very effective.
Hide your blog – let’s face it, if people can’t find your blog then they are unlikely to react negatively to anything in it. This can either be done actively or passively: actively should involve regularly changing permalinks to break those unwanted inbound links, while passively you can simply sit back and steadfastly refuse to admit that the blog exists.


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Reporter twitters funeral of 3-year old

twitter logo Social media tools like for example microblogging platforms have a lot of advantages. News organizations like CNN use it to engage viewers in conversation and big brands like GM and Jetblue also communicate via Twitter. But there are of course occasions when these channels are not appropriate to use and Berny Morson, a reporter at The Rocky Mountain News, demonstrated poor judgement on Wednesday this week when he decided to tweet the funeral of a 3-year old boy that was killed by a pickup truck the week before.

Covering a tragic indicent like the loss of a small child, and in particular the very emotional setting during a funeral, requires a great deal of respect for the privacy of the people involved.

“We’re at this emotional service and there was this reporter non-stop text messaging,” Mike McPhee, a Denver Post reporter said. “How would you not notice?”

With tweets like “the father is sobbing over the casket”, Morson in my view clearly crosses the line for what is ethical. Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should.

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Brands on Twitter and Jaiku

More and more businesses and organizations are on Twitter, the micro-blogging site. Fluent Simplicity has a long list of brands on Twitter. My employer, Burson-Marsteller, is not on the list but can be found on I can also add NRK and GCI Communique, both from Norway.

So, who’s on Jaiku? Let’s create a list, I suspect it will be pretty short. This is what I’ve got so far. Add more in the comments or by email.


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