Assessing the impact of civil gang injunctions on the use of online media by criminal street gangs

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International Journal of Cyber Criminology


Mounting evidence suggests that members of criminal street gangs use internet communications technology to advertise their accomplishments, promote a counter-normative lifestyle, and continue illicit operations. Noting that not all content is equal in its ability to influence target audiences, this study investigates the message sensation value (MSV) of material posted by street gangs with civil gang injunctions. Gangs facing increased social censure and behavioral restrictions associated with the imposition of CGIs may be more inclined to post You Tube videos with high MSV to promote gang lifestyles and brand, as their visibility in the neighborhood may be diminished by law enforcement action. The results show that (1) there is a moderate association between indices measuring MSV and content (lifestyle and branding); (2) gangs that continue to use physical violence to maintain social dominance arc observed to have lower scores on MSV, lifestyle and branding metrics; and, (3) videos filmed in public settings and those produced by gangs that have been under injunction for a longer period are likely to have stronger branding messages, while videos filmed in a safe zone are expected to have lower lifestyle messages. We find no significant difference between video quality between the Bloods and the Crips.

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