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When Ordered, Twitter Monitors Tweet-Bangers For Authorities -- Report

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Tue, Feb 2, 2010 at 4:39 PM

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Representatives of Twitter and Facebook said they cooperate with authorities investigating gangs that use the social-networking tools to communicate about crime, according to a report.

"Representatives from Twitter and Facebook say they regularly cooperate with police and supply information on account holders when presented with a search warrant," states the Associated Press.

Authorities say they're increasingly coming across gangs that use Twitter and Facebook to communicate. In one example cited in the Associated Press, a gang warned members that an affiliate released early from behind bars might have cut a deal and could be a snitch. It did so via Twitter. Is this the era of tweet-banging? Facebangers?

If so, that sword cuts both ways: Authorities were following members' tweets as part of its ongoing investigation of the Bay Area gang. Law enforcement seems to be finding social media as useful as gangs are. Prosecutors said they found evidence on YouTube that helped them crack down on the Eastside Riva gang in Riverside last week.

"You find out about people you never would have known about before," Dean Johnston of the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement told AP. "You build this little tree of people."

AP reports that (even) gangsters are moving on from MySpace to Twitter and Facebook to keep their own social networks alive. Threats, boasts and tips are shared this way, law enforcers say. Some gangs even have groups on Facebook. But gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha and Florencia still prefer MySpace, according to the report.

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