LAPD Has Its Eye on Twitter Flash Mobs

Planning on organizing a flash mob via Twitter? Might want to think twice. Or stick to good ole fashioned email. Because the LAPD is apparently online and cruising social media with the goal of putting a check on flash mobs. Multiple Carmageddon-related freeway flashmobs were thwarted by LAPD web geeks–including a pretty amazing-sounding bicycle ride on the 405.

The website Policeone.com has the story:

The LAPD and Sheriff’s Department, while still relying heavily on public tips, have devoted manpower to keep track of trending topics and buzz words on Twitter that could result in unruly gatherings or disrupt traffic.

Officers with LAPD’s Internet Unit, for example, are already keeping an eye out for chatter that results in incidents breaking out during protests or counter-protests during President Obama’s visit to Los Angeles on Monday.

But the officers have to know what to look for, where to look for it, and with ever-evolving variations of online slang and jargon, heading off an errant flash mob is not so easy.

We guess it would be irresponsible for the police not to do this type of research. If technology can be harnessed to organize big ridiculous song and dance numbers in an Apple Store, it could easily be used for other equally nefarious criminal purposes. That said, we’re hoping police are selective with how they handle the information they gather. Screwing up a group bike ride seems like it should be pretty far down the pecking order.