The frequency of tweets on crime is then compared to the number of murders, murder rate, or degree of fear of crime as reported in surveys. According to the findings, social media, like traditional mass media such as newspapers, has a substantial bias toward violent or sexual crimes. The study showed that news about violence or sexual crimes are more likely to be spread via social networking sites than other types of crimes.
Other factors that may influence fear of crime include police activity and community attitudes toward crime.
Finally, the researchers controlled for the temporal correlation of crimes by only looking at changes over time rather than comparing each year's statistics with previous years.
This study shows that social media can be used to gain insight into crime patterns in cities across the country. However, since this study only examined data from Boston, Massachusetts, its results may not apply to all areas of the country.
According to a substantial body of research, the public's fear of criminal victimization is heightened by the prevalence of violence in the media. It is well known that crime material is a prominent part of the mainstream media, and that it distorts the reality of crime by focusing disproportionately on random violent crimes (Reiner 2007). The media also influences people's ideas about what kind of person commits a crime, which in turn can affect how likely they are to report an incident if it did happen to them.
In addition to reflecting the actual rate of violence, the media also reports more harshly on crimes that attract much attention. For example, when newspapers report on police shootings, they often include comments from community members who criticize the officer's actions. This can have the effect of prompting more such incidents. Media coverage of crime also tends to focus on gruesome details that might not otherwise be reported by other sources. For example, when a young man was found murdered in a Minnesota park, his eyes were removed and placed in front of the visitor center because police thought this would "gauge public reaction."
Finally, the media can influence how law enforcement agencies conduct their investigations by providing them with specific targets for news stories. For example, when officers search a home without a warrant, they usually want to find evidence of drugs or money hidden in order to justify their action.
Crime rate perception According to the study's findings, the media and social media affected their opinions of how frequently crime happens in the United States. Social media, in particular, had a higher effect on their impression of crime rates in the United States than the media. Facebook users who were shown photos of crimes that had been posted to their pages estimated that about one in three U.S. crimes was committed online.
Social norms Crime is a product of social norms. Social norms are the set of rules that people follow in order to behave according to what is acceptable in society. Social norms can be classified as internal or external. Internal norms refer to those rules which are inherent to an individual and affect his or her behavior towards themselves. These include values such as integrity and honesty. External norms refer to those rules which exist outside of an individual and affect his or her behavior towards others. Examples of these rules include laws and customs. When someone violates an internal norm they feel guilty; when they violate an external one they may be punished by society at large. Media influences through story selection and omission In studies conducted over the past decade, researchers have found evidence that media influences viewers' perceptions of crime by selecting certain events to report on and leaving others out. What appears to matter most is not so much the specific event reported but rather whether it fits with other similar events that are being reported.