By Terry Scott Niebeling
The Minnesota Daily Editorial Board’s article @UMNCRIME needs to stop is misleading and presents problems for those interested in the truth. Firstly, championing the idea that less information is more useful in solving crimes is a poor strategy for a newspaper, especially a newspaper operating at a university with an emphasis on research. Monocultures kill most things now-a-days; if we get all of our information from two sources (U of MN, MPD) we are limited by those sources and their agenda–by their will. Not only does limiting sources compromise an objective observation of events (crimes, and the aftermath), but it also slows the investigation process; it allows sleeping dogs lie. Criminals can walk around without a care if they are being pursued by one or two groups. But those same criminals become affected when they see their photos floating around on social media, as we saw. One suspect being so moved he deleted his Facebook account. I would say that is directly related to @UMNCRIME’s posts. Furthermore, the Minnesota Daily’s article is grounded upon logical fallacies, and lacks a clear purpose. Here, I will present the passage that struck me as misleading, and below explain its inconsistencies:
“While it’s true the student who reported seeing the “suspects” recognized them from social media, the men were already being investigated by police in connection with the burglaries. Besides that initial call, the photos and online manhunt didn’t factor into the arrest at all, and it’s likely the pair would have been arrested anyway.” –Daily Editorial Board, 03/06/14
Yes, “it’s true the people noticed the “suspects” from social media… the photos and online manhunt didn’t factor into the arrest at all” Wow, really? Did I just read that? When we line these sentences up (from the same paragraph), we see a non-sequitur logic, we see this paragraph, and its meaning, fall to pieces. The board says it’s true the students identified the “suspects” from pictures, and then in the same breath, expresses that seeing those photos “didn’t factor into the arrest at all.”
Saying that social media played no part in the arrest is an opinion, not a fact.
I feel that social media definitely played a part in the arrests of the most recent burglaries around campus, because those tweets and photos pressured the police to take more action before someone else did. The reason for this is because the police do not want victims of crimes to get involved. They may say, “Leave it to us, it’s our job, we’ll do the best we can.” Well, sometimes one person’s best isn’t enough, more heads involved to solve a problem is likely more beneficial to the outcome. However, where does a person stand after they’ve been victimized? I have been a victim of burglary (3 times: once my house, twice my car), I felt unsafe. I think that by posting photos of suspects online gives the victim an opportunity to seek out their assailant personally. One can find a person anywhere just by a simple name search (with the city, Boolean Operation) on Google, try it. From that a person can obtain the suspect’s Facebook page, the suspect’s home address, and some pretty valuable basic information on their criminal past.
The best part about social media today is that it is all inclusive. One does not think to search themselves, what they find may shock them. Search anyone, anything. Maybe search the perpetrators of a crime, and see what you find. I think this article inhibits the rights of individuals- the right to know, to not be left in the dark by the University of Minnesota and the MPD.
I think what @UMNCRIME does is provide a forum for conversation amongst victims; they are the whistleblowers this campus needs to scare off criminals and to pressure police into becoming more involved with victims, and their unsolved cases. They promote the idea of spreading awareness.
I think more of the general public should look at the resources around them and realize that they have available many of the same tools as law enforcement and government agencies when it comes to searching people. There is a lot one can do from a computer.
What does not help stop crime on campus is vague descriptions and details of the crime sent via email from the college. What does help is an outside entity providing relatively clear photos of actual suspects and conversation on the crime. The agenda of the school’s and MPD differ from those of @UMNCRIME, but what does each group (respectively) want you to know? Should we be withheld information on crimes happening to the student body? I pay tuition, I have stake in knowing.
@UMNCRIME is an open ended resource for information; as one reads any information, they should take into account who wrote it, what words they used, and the editors and producers involved (I wonder what prompted this article in the first place). It is a judgment call on the person reading not the entity providing the information. @UMNCRIME should remain to stand up for victims of unsolved crimes, to set fear into criminals, and to show that we live in a democratic justice system where all have the resources to conduct and execute searches on people, suspects, and criminals.
I think as a student body we deserve to know what is going on with local crime investigations, we should be granted access to photos of “suspects” (apparent), and we absolutely must maintain the right to study these individuals lest they catch us unawares again. I thought the University was a research heavy college, what are they telling us now? Wouldn’t the researcher want the most resources to prove their thesis? I would. @UMNCRIME doesn’t need to do anything other than what they choose to do. We live in a society of choices. One has the choice to sit back and take what is given them (from the University of Minnesota, from the MN Daily, and from the MPD), or search out the truth on their own. So, Minnesota Daily, where do you get your information, and who tells you what to do?