Committing a public crime in Montreal isn't so easy when the entire population walks around with a recording device in their pocket. With smartphones equipped with cameras, video recorders, and image-sharing apps like Instagram, anyone can document a crime, and provide concrete evidence to the police.
People don't need to walk idly by a crime in progress, as now you can become involved, and even help, by recording the event. MTL Blog has featured several videos of crimes and misconduct in progress, all of which would probably go unreported if they weren't recorded then shared on the web:
- Homeless person fight in Atwater station
- Officer threatening a freezing homeless man
- Montreal man berating a woman for waering a headscarf
- Police brutally arresting man for parking on peel street
In truth, none of the above videos are true 'crimes,' but they did make the city aware of specific, and very serious, issues. These recordings do point out the power of mobile recording devices, and how the average citizen can take part in preventing and recording crimes. If you see a potential crime, all you need to do is hit record, and you may help solving the case.
The entire world has seen this trend. Ukrainians in Kiev have used Instagram to document the violent anti-government protests currently ongoing. Florida police officers used Instagram to convict a man of 142 felonies. On the evil flip-side, a recently deleted Instragram account used the social media platform to intimidate witnesses, which does point out the app's ability to find citizens with information.
Instagram and smartphones have become a force against injustice, as we have seen in Montreal, and the world at large.
Given the potential smartphones and networks like Instagram have, should they be more formally used in police investigations? Gary Kessler, on CNN Opinion, thinks so. Kessler argues that everyone is taking pictures of everything all the time, thus documenting a crime scene before, during, and after the crime takes place. Privacy issues aside, the access to apps like Instagram could be a major force for good.
Or, you know, just become a whole 'big brother is watching thing.'