CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Social media is fuelling youth violence, experts warn after rise in stabbings

Taunting on Instagram and Snapchat 'leads to retaliatory attacks'

01 February, 2018 — By William McLennan

Rival gangs post their crimes online to say ‘what are you going to do?’

THE use of social media by criminals goading their victims is one of the drivers behind the rise in stabbings, experts have warned.

Young people who have been victims of crime in Camden are being taunted on platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, leading to retaliatory violence by those determined not to “lose face”, according to officials.

Eugene Griffin, head of Camden’s youth offending service, said: “For instance, if a young person is stabbed, a lot of the goading that might happen from a rival gang happens on social media. So then a retaliation comes back because they feel you can’t lose face.”

The initial attack might have been about control of a drugs market or drug dealing, he said.
Citing a recent example, he said: “A gang in Islington who came into Camden and did some robberies posted up what they stole, which were mobile phones, on Instagram.

“Literally, it was saying to the other gang in Camden, we can come into your area and do these. A little bit of ‘What are you going to do back to us?’.”

He was speaking at a public meeting on the rise in knife crime on Tuesday night.

Abdikadir Ahmed, of the Somali Youth Development Resource Council, told the New Journal

that social media companies could do more to tackle the problem.

“They can delete and take down posts a lot quicker,” he said.

“I don’t know if police have got the resources to monitor this. They are already stretched as it is, but there is something in the air on social media when things are happening in the area. They will

call each other out on social media.”

Charities and researchers have been warning for months that social media was fuelling youth violence.

It provides a “virtual free-for-all space” in which “a small minority of young people share material that both displays and incites serious incidents of violence in real life”, Tom Sackville, of Catch-22, said last year.

A spokesperson for Snapchat said it encouraged anyone who sees inappropriate content to report it so it can be investigated by its “trust and safety team”. Threatening behaviour and images of gratuitous violence were prohibited and would be taken down.
Instagram did not respond to requests for a comment.

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