Internet banging: Gangs use social media to trade insults, threats

January 23, 2013, University of Michigan
Internet banging: Gangs use social media to trade insults, threats

Gangs now occupy two spaces: the streets and the Internet.

A new University of Michigan study reports that, in addition to carrying guns, gang members have armed themselves with social media sites such as Twitter, and to incite dares, trade insults or make threats that may result in homicide or other crimes.

Researchers have described this new interaction as "Internet banging." They examine several factors, including the role of hip-hop music in this phenomenon and urban masculinity's influence on social media behavior.

Desmond Patton, assistant professor of social work, said it's unclear if Internet banging only involves males or one ethnic group. However, gang-related violence disseminated over social media appears to be a male-dominated behavior that is shaped by fewer employment opportunities for minorities.

Youth gang members are similar to their non-gang peers regarding online behavior in terms of feeling more positive about themselves using the Internet compared with the real world. The groups differ in using the Internet for posturing.

"Many gang members, usually those who are new, are interested in making a name for themselves which leads to bragging about acts of violence or crimes that they may not have committed," Patton said.

Using the Internet allows gang members to promote their affiliation and share information about rival gangs.

The researchers also examined hip-hop music, which they characterize as the rebellious, assertive voice of urban youth, males in particular. Patton said it's this identity, along with unemployment and poor , that fuels the behavior of some African-American men.

"In , the hip-hop identity has found the optimal playground to perpetuate and replicate itself because of its public nature," he said.

In addition, male who use the Internet can express their masculinity and be recognized in a public forum.

"It gives them a place to seek public love and recognition of their manhood, a reinforcement of self they receive in few other places," Patton said.

Explore further: Gangs don't protect against crime

More information: The findings appear in the current issue of Computers in Human Behavior: www.sciencedirect.com/science/ … ii/S0747563212003779

Related Stories

Gangs don't protect against crime

April 13, 2011

Gang members are twice as likely to be crime victims than non-gang members and are more frequently subject to simple assault, aggravated assault and drive by shootings, according to a recently study by the Crime Victims' ...

Resisting peer pressure

September 28, 2011

The company an adolescent keeps, particularly when it comes to drugs and criminal activity, affects bad behavior. Right?

Recommended for you

Unprecedented study of Picasso's bronzes uncovers new details

February 17, 2018

Musee national Picasso-Paris and the Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS) have completed the first major material survey and study of the Musee national Picasso-Paris' ...

Using Twitter to discover how language changes

February 16, 2018

Scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London, have studied more than 200 million Twitter messages to try and unravel the mystery of how language evolves and spreads.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.