Social media used to identify rioters in Vancouver

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but if I was considering doing something illegal, I’d probably not choose a situation where there were thousands of cameras around. Then again, I’ve never been in a riot. As you’ve probably already heard, there were riots in Vancouver this week after the city’s hockey team Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup title to the Boston Bruins. All over the town, people were taking photos and videos of rioters looting and smashing cars. With a quick search for “Vancouver riots” we can find more than 1,000 videos on YouTube and close to 4,000 photos on Flickr from last week.

Conclusion: social media is a gold mine for those who wish to identify the rioters. And those are for example the Vancouver Police Departement and citizens that want to name and shame to looters. On Facebook, there are several groups and pages with titles like “Vancouver 2011 Rioters Public Humiliation Page” and “Help vancouver: post pics and video of rioters and looters”. Some of them claim to have identified individuals in the photos and reveal it in photos like the one below.

Vancouver riots

While taking the law into your own hands is not at all recommended, there are other ways to help. VPD, the Vancouver Police Departement uses social media to encourage citizens to help identify suspects in the riots. On the VPD Facebook page, the police have posted instructions for how to submit YouTube videos to VPD. And apparently the response from the public has been very positive:

“The response from the public wanting to help the police identify the individuals involved in criminal activity that occurred after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on the night of June 15, 2011 has been tremendous”, VPD says in a statement.

VPD is also actively using Flickr and YouTube to communicate, and the VPD Twitter account is used to help solve crime.

Finally, I love this photo that was posted on the VPD Facebook page. The VPD had parked a car in Greenville, to help with the clean up effort. When the policemen returned, the car was covered in post it notes with thank you messages. More photos here.

vpd police car

Flickr Photo by BrittneyBush.