Trend: Gangs Increasingly Using the Web

Published: April 15, 2006

WASHINGTON – Police are noticing that gangs are becoming more computer savvy.

Members or those who say they are members are posting on their own Internet pages warnings to rival gang members. They are also bragging about their affiliations, school truancy and drug use.

According to the Washington Post, police call this “cyberbanging,” and many postings in the Washington D.C. area deal with Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), as well as other local gangs. Washington authorities are using the sites to track area gangs, identify members and gather other intelligence.

Teenagers are often the ones engaging in this activity and designing their Web pages with gang signs and other images portraying the gangster lifestyle. Most of them do not refer to themselves by their real names, instead using fictitious monikers.

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Sometimes confrontations that begin on the Internet escalate to violent activity on the street.

Cyberbangers use myspace.com and other social networking sites to post “shout-outs” and engage in chats. Blackplanet.com and migente.com are commonly used by gang members to post information. According to a spokesperson for blackplanet.com and migente.com, both sites are regularly screened for inappropriate language and pictures. When inappropriate content is found, the pages posting it are shut down.

According to the Washington Post, police in California began seeing this activity in the late nineties. Since then, cyberbanging has spread across the country.

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