Deviant Flash Mobs: Manifestation of Social Ills to Come

By Francisco Mateo, CPP

Police Investigate Germantown Flash Mob

Flash mobs, a phenomenon that has evolved from the ubiquitous communication networks and the advent of social media, has lately been adopted by deviant mobs. It’s small wonder that the randomness and anonymity of flash mobs would be repurposed for criminal means. In fact, deviant youths have been late adopters, as flash mobs are the means by which many social related events are married to guerilla tactics for maximum impact. Criminal innovations in the social sphere are nothing new. Most criminal trends have their genesis in observed social behavior applied from a deviant perspective.

To understand the root causes at play here we ought to remember that with each new technological innovation (Coupled with the challenges of a growing global population and dwindling resources to sustain social order) we tend to relieve an episode of the Luddite rebellion. The main distinguishing factors is that in its original version the revolt had a marked character tied to a leader; in its latest reincarnation we see a hydra-like leaderless meta-groups leveraging the social communication networks to achieve their aims. These aims often times could not be separated from the deeply rooted issues of social inequality and deprivation which plague many communities in the developed world. The results are similar (As an expert on the subject would say “The internet’s output is data, but its product is freedom, lots and lots of freedom.”), a break from the social norms with roots based on perceived or real social inequality made manifest by a prolonged global recession.

The same technology that empowers an individual also creates malice, anti-social behavior spawned in part by social-economic stagnation. On the flip side of that is the application of technology to crime prevention and detection. On-line base detection options are available to business owners like the case of the retail store depicted above. Such technology has been in existence for a while. Recognizing the need to thwart such criminal trends, practitioners like ICG, Inc. through their iThreat Solutions platform have developed tools at the cutting edge of crime fighting on the wild-wild west of the cyber world.

I expect strains of the deviant flash mob phenomenon to propagate and become a trend globally; mainly because such tactics have already been in use all over the world. There is strength in numbers and these deviant youths have figured out there are ways to circumvent established social and crime controls. But technology gives to all and off-line crime control techniques have already evolved into the cyber sphere. Victims of deviant flash mobs should bare this fact in mind when they implement prevention and reaction plans.


When Economies Decline, Social Volatility Rises

For more than two years the question of sovereign debt has been festering as major economies struggle to nurse economies back to healthy growth levels. As first there was Greece, Dubai and others. Now, the list has grown r

Now the leading economies, with their backs against the wall, have launched ever deeper austerity measures, which now threaten to open the floodgates of pent-up social anxiety of sorts. The most recent manifestations, social unrest, (In Europe and the Middle East) appear to be spreading. Although many factors are contributing to these events, the underlying factors appear to be constant. High unemployment, as well as high inflation act as accelerant, fueling highly volatile conditions.

Some obvious questions that I asked myself more and more: what happens if the current sovereign debt problems continue to spread? What impacts would these events have on the protection of people, assets and reputation for public and private industry? For the untrained in global economics it’s difficult to make sense of the wild gyrations we’re experiencing and that are only getting more complex. To the extent that only a handful of people can understand the magnitude of the global economic crisis. We’re left with a partial picture of potential scenarios over the horizon; which we must draw upon to design strategic response.  Therein lies an important takeaway, we should question all of our assumptions and create contingencies for the most likely scenarios.

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