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.

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