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Tweet3PO's creators say the future of crime fighting isn't neighborhood watch - it's social media

Photo: Christopher Balogh, License: N/A

Christopher Balogh

Even if the information is sensitive and those involved might not want it out there.

Attempted-suicide dispatches are made painfully public via Tweet3PO's feed, and indeed, on May 30, four such calls were tweeted to followers by Tweet3PO and through the Orlando Police Department's Twitter feed; another was reported on May 31 in the Baldwin Park neighborhood. Libby Donoghue, executive director of 2-1-1 Brevard Inc., a telephone-based crisis and suicide intervention service for Central Florida, says programs that aren't sensitive to the emotional impact they could have on victims can be dangerous.

“I think there is certainly a risk of further stigmatizing individuals and families dealing with depression or emotional health challenges,” Donoghue says. “Drawing attention to [suicide] attempts can also serve to increase risk among vulnerable individuals, particularly young people. I can't imagine that is the desired outcome.”

Donoghue says she doesn't understand what benefit is anticipated by releasing such information.

When a domestic-disturbance call comes in through the Orlando active-calls log, the address of the dispute is usually omitted (those calls carry the address of Orlando Police Department headquarters at 100 S. Hughey Ave.), but calls for battery, harassment, unspecified assaults and other disturbances that are not called in expressly as domestic violence are publicized, address and all, through Tweet3PO.

Muffet Robinson, director of communications for the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, which provides a housing program for women escaping domestic abuse through its Women's Residential and Counseling Center, says that these details could have a long-term effect on victims.

“The desire to revolutionize neighborhood watch groups is admirable,” Robinson says. “But we fear that specific information about domestic-abuse victims available through social media could have a detrimental effect.”

Robinson says that 85 percent of the Women's Residential and Counseling Center's clients are victims of crime, predominantly domestic violence. Many would be afraid to report incidents if they knew that their addresses and private information would be broadcast publicly.

“It's hard for most women to report their situation anyway,” she says. “If they think their friends, neighbors, kids and others will read the details with one click, they might not report the abuse at all. And we definitely don't want that to happen.”

Diggz says that putting out this sort of public information through Tweet3PO is a win some, lose some battle.

“I think the positives far outweigh the potential negatives,” he says. “It's disseminating information to increase awareness.”

Grobleski and Diggz apply this same attitude about Tweet3PO being used for nefarious purposes – say, should an overzealous neighborhood watchdog want to use it to help organize vigilante activity in a neighborhood.

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