Police in Delhi have found a new way to outsource traffic ticket revenue- by getting locals to join a Facebook group and tag offenders in pictures.
I don’t know if this is worse or more humiliating than being tagged in a pic where you look fat and awful- people can upload pictures of your sucky driving to a Facebook account and you could get a real life ticket for it, not even just some lame Mafia Wars citation. More than 17,000 Indians have joined the group, 3,000+ minor crimes in progress have been posted, and over 600 tickets have been issued using Facebook.
Delhi’s joint commissioner of traffic, Satyendra Garg, says that the Facebook police manage to cover the shortfall when real actual policemen aren’t there to witness the incidents- although he acknowledged it’s not a flawless system:
“Traffic police can’t be present everywhere, but rules are always being broken,” Mr. Garg said. “If people want to report it, we welcome it. A violation is a violation.” Mr. Garg acknowledged that it was possible photos could be manipulated to incriminate someone who was not actually breaking the law. But, he said, drivers can contest the tickets if they think they were wrongly issued.
However, critics say the group’s nature is “Orwellian,” and that it reflects an ugly part of the human psyche- though he stopped short of adding that snitches get stitches:
“When you start using the Internet as way for the government to keep tabs on its citizens, I start getting really worried, because you don’t know where it will end,” he said. The popularity of the page shows that the ability to publicly humiliate wrongdoers “taps into a very basic primal part of who we are as human beings,” Mr. Mishra said, and it is not a pleasant one.
The city now has 4 officers working “around the clock” to follow up on Facebook sourced traffic violations in progress. It’s not all good for the police though- 50 of the citations issued were to their officers. What do you think? Should Facebook ever be used as a law enforcement tool, or is a citizen’s arrest via social networking a scary, scary thing?