I remember the days where the police would mostly get called out for an old fashioned robbery, or maybe a bar brawl. But now crimes are shifting as the way that we interact is too. At least half of the calls made to front-line police are now about online crimes, like social media harassment, and they’re having to evolve, as are we.
Chief Constable Alex Marshall, head of the College of Policing, told the BBC: “As people have moved their shopping online and their communications online, they’ve also moved their insults, their abuse and their threats online.”
And it’s only getting worse. A report in March suggests that ‘Twitter crimes’ have doubled in the last three years, with incidents on Facebook going up from around 10,000 in 2011 to just over 13,000 in 2013. Marshall thinks that it won’t be long “before pretty much every investigation that the police conduct will have an online element to it,” adding: “It’s a real problem for people working on the front line of policing.” This may not even be an accurate representation as some cyber crimes are still logged under old-school crime categories.
Because people hide behind the internet it’s easier to hate if you don’t have to actually face the other person; for example, ‘trolling’ has become more common, which refers to cretins who post deliberately controversial or upsetting comments (often on tribute sites for the deceased) to get a rise out of people.
Around 6,000 officers are being trained to deal with online offences related to social media including bullying, harassment, abuse and death threats, but if you’re worried about a situation online then there are a few things you can do before it gets to police-level; which is kind of like going to the hospital with an (albeit nasty) splinter. As another officer, who spoke to the BBC, said: “A lot of the time […] it’s that whole attitude of, ‘I don’t know what to do, I’ll call the police, they’ll sort it out for me.”
So, crank your security as high as possible and always be aware of what you’re sharing and who can see it. For example, Twitter tends to be a more public platform and, if you get retweeted – you popular thing – could have quite a large reach. Most sites have levels of privacy settings and report buttons if a post is offensive or trollish. If you’re being harassed online there are charities that may be able to help too, offering legal advice and support for victims.
At the end of the day, common sense is king. If someone’s hating on you, block ‘em. Block the heck outta them. If it’s getting stalkery, or you feel harassed or victimised – just like you would in real life – then look at seeking further advice. The way the world works is changing, as is the way that people are being rubbish toward each other; and all that we can do is operate on zero tolerance, and educate ourselves on what we can do to stop it.
If you have any queries about the safety of your solution online give us a call on 0208 045 4945 or contact your account manager.