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Police Turn To Social Networking Sites To Anticipate Crime

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The New York City Police Department has taken to using social networking websites to track weekend parties in anticipation of crimes. NY1’s Dean Meminger filed the following report.

As parties are broadcast on Facebook and Twitter, there’s a good chance that the New York City Police Department is hearing about them, as well.

"Oh, we look for house parties all the time," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Last weekend, two people were killed and 11 shot as bullets flew at two house parties in Brooklyn.

At least one was promoted on Facebook as a “Freaky Friday” event, though it's unclear if it was on police radar.

“We look at social networking,” said Kelly. “We’re very much focused on weekend parties, the type of parties that happened last weekend, and we visit them ahead of time. But not every one of these parties happen at a place we can readily identify."

More and more people are using social networks to promote parties using what are called “Internet fliers.” Many post them on their Facebook public event page.

Though not every party advertised in such a way means trouble, police officers say that even the honest ones can end up with problems.

“Our gang division, our borough personnel look at party advertisements,” said Kelly. “A lot of these things are at peoples’ apartments.”

Some New Yorkers support the police checking out social networks.

"Maybe if they did look at a Facebook page, they could stop one kid from getting shot at a party,” said one young New Yorker.

"If it is going to help cut down on the homicides, then I guess I’m for it," said another individual.

Others say it’s another case of big brother watching their every move.

"I really do think it is an invasion of privacy," said an individual.

"If they are going inside and looking at the Facebook, whatever, I think it is intruding," said another.

"If it is a ‘friend’ type thing and you have to be requested to the page and somehow the police are saying, ‘hey, I'm a friend from eighth grade, remember me?’ I suppose it would be,” said one person. “But if it is a social page and it is out there for everyone to see, then it seems like you are accepting that risk."

And that risk means anyone may show up at your party, including gangs and the cops.

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