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Conference Papers Year : 2019

Fighting Crime: Harnessing the Power of Virtual Social Communities


Crime is a reality that effects everyone in the world. Even developed countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany are not exempted from crime occurrences. Although these indicators are substantially less than developing countries such as South Africa, the existence of crime is a worldwide phenomenon. In this paper we explore the extent to which social media, in particular Facebook are used in the fight against crime.The study adopts a social technical approach in its investigation, considering the symbiotic relationship between communities (the organisation), Facebook and the utilisation of Facebook to complete tasks (technical subsystem), team members and structure to report crime in virtual communities (social subsystem) and current governance structures (environmental system). Based on a study of 297 crime fighting Facebook communities in South Africa, we found a positive correlation between the number of Facebook crime fighting communities per region and the crime rates for a particular region. Furthermore, we noticed that the regions with the most crime communities also had the most Internet connectivity per household. Both findings are indicative of a functional symbiotic relationship between the technical subsystem and the social subsystem. However, it highlights the fact that these structures are initiated by communities therefore lacking strong intervention from the environmental system, in this instance governmental bodies. We propose that governmental agencies formally recognise social media platforms as social crime fighting tool. Secondly, we suggest that governmental entities should focus on infrastructure related challenges as part of their attempt to combat crime.
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Dates and versions

hal-02510133 , version 1 (17-03-2020)


Attribution - CC BY 4.0



Marie J. Hattingh, Sunet Eybers. Fighting Crime: Harnessing the Power of Virtual Social Communities. 18th Conference on e-Business, e-Services and e-Society (I3E), Sep 2019, Trondheim, Norway. pp.797-808, ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-29374-1_65⟩. ⟨hal-02510133⟩
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