The power of Twitter is undeniable. This week, it was used as a tool to catch criminals.
Last week, a violent hate crime was committed against two men walking the streets of Philadelphia. Philly police released surveillance video of the attackers, who according to police had made “disparaging remarks” about gay people, then proceeded to physically attack the men, who both suffered severe injuries.
The hateful story made its way to Twitter, where one anonymous user, @FanSince09, decide to take matters into his own hands. He launched a campaign on his page to find the attackers, and just a few hours later had positively identified them. Using only social media and tips from fellow users, he quickly traced the attackers to the restaurant where they had dined that evening, and discovered their names because one of them had checked in on Facebook.
Fusion Live spoke to @FanSince09 today about what sparked his interest in the crime.
“The area that it happened is very close to the gay area in Philadelphia and we just don’t think about that kind of thing happening especially when the assailants, the attackers are young people,” he said. “That was kind of what was shocking to me was that, you know, this is just very unusually behavior for Philadelphia.”
@FanSince09 has chosen to remain anonymous despite all the attention drawn to him today and says it actually helped him gain the trust of fellow users.
“The benefit I have of being an anonymous account is that people feel more comfortable talking to me than they would going to the police because their names can get associated with it,” he said. “I was the go-between between the tips coming in and the police department.”