Twitter And Facebook Criminal Complaints Drastically Increase

Have you ever been harassed online? Seems more and more people are – and they’re reporting it.

The bright side of this news? Authorities are taking online harassment seriously and those responsible are being held accountable.

The Independent reports that “complaints of crimes involving Facebook and Twitter have increased 780 per cent in four years” in the UK. That’s a lot of angry posts!

The phenomenon of social networking crime was comparatively minor in 2008 with 556 reports made to police, according to the statistics released by 29 police forces in England, Scotland and Wales under the Freedom of Information Act.

But this year 4,908 offences in which the two sites were a factor were reported.

According to The Daily Mail, those reports resulted in 46 people being charged in 2008 and 653 people facing criminal charges this year. And the allegations included “posting abusive messages ad crimes that were provoked by postings such as violent attacks.”

And, unfortunately, although the response rate is higher, authorities still have a ways to go when it comes to prioritizing valid complaints versus the ridiculous.

Chief Constable Andy Trotter, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead on communications, said forces must prioritise crimes which cause genuine harm, rather than attempting to curb freedom of expression.

In the U.S., online harassment complaints are directed to local FBI offices and we’ve yet to uncover an all-encompassing report. We did find the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and found out it logged its 2 millionth consumer complaint alleging online criminal activity in  November of 2010. Yes, “criminal activity” is not the same as harassment, but it’s all fantastically evil, isn’t it? We just didn’t want to lull U.S. readers into a false sense of security. The cyberbullies (and criminals) are out in force here too.

Do these stats surprise you? And have you ever contacted the police about online harassment or threats?

(Laptop image from Shutterstock)

@MaryCLong Mary C. Long is Chief Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She writes about everything online and is published widely, with a focus on privacy concerns, specifically social sabotage.