online journalism

Facebook: The Crimestopper

This past week there were a few stories about how Facebook has helped Iowa police departments to capture various disturbances:

• A few days ago a South Tama County school was shut down after police discovered a bomb threat message in a bathroom stall and used Facebook to help identify the 12-year-old culprit.

• And yesterday, it was discovered that the suspect in a rape of a UI student on the Pentacrest last Fall had been identified using Facebook.

As much as Facebook can be a hassle, disturbance, and barrier of bad news it is becoming more and more proactive in being a useful tool for society, especially in law enforcement. While many places of employment are using Facebook to screen their potential job candidates, many are using Facebook to fight back against injustices.

Whether it be to “get back at an ex” or to start a revolution, Facebook is completely capable to be a “lifesaver” of sorts. I believe as Facebook continues to develop into a more sophisticated social media site, its users will follow its pattern, as well. The internet age of using chat rooms and gaming are starting to fall further down the list of “popular uses for the internet.”

With websites like Facebook connecting to other sites like CNN and MSNBC, internet users are becoming more involved in “their world.” While people continue to do the “hard work for us” such as the reporting and writing of stories, users are actively seeking out their answers rather than just letting what is being said go over their heads.

For example, the girl in the UI student rape case ACTIVELY sought out the information to identify her attacker. Another example are the people of Libya and Egypt ACTIVELY seeking out journalists to tell their story to, or finding ways to upload their own videos/pictures/audio of the events in their countries.

Facebook may be abused by users but by continuing to develop and enhance its features towards a more informed, proactive, and productive goal it could perhaps change society as we know it.

 

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