Italian police keep tabs on Facebook to combat mafia
'Crime evolves with rest of society' chief tells L'Espresso21 September, 14:26
Mobsters are using social networks to communicate with each other, buy and sell drugs and even to send threats to extortion victims, according to a report in Friday's edition of Italian news weekly L'Espresso.
So the authorities are keeping a close eye on Facebook, Twitter and other networks in order to keep tabs on them.
"(Facebook) shows connections between people," Alessandro Giuliano, a senior Milan policeman, told L'Espresso.
"The photographic material found on it becomes a starting point for investigations. It's an important help for us.
"Crime, like all human phenomena, evolves together with the society it is part of. "Twenty years ago criminals used landline telephones, then they started to use mobile phones and the police had to become specialised technically to tap them. Now they have moved to the Internet".
The report cited the example of a young mobster who sent threats via Facebook to the son of a Palermo shopkeeper in order to intimidate him into paying for 'protection'. Palermo police said they had many similar examples of online acts of intimidation.
Police managed to track down Calabrian mobster Pasquale Manfredi, meanwhile, by tracing the Internet card he used to log on and update a Facebook profile he had set up with the name Scarface while on the run.
Another Mafioso was caught when photos on his girlfriend's Facebook page showed that he was on vacation in Spain.
The front page of Friday's edition of L'Espresso showed images of Facebook profiles in the names of famous Italian Mafia bosses, including jailed former Costa Nostra chief Toto' Riina, set up by anonymous admirers.
The Riina profile featured a comment in English that read: "All mafia families should be UNITED against all governments of the world. Ndrangheta, Cosa Nostra, and ALL OTHER FAMILIES should be connected and united. Governments wants to destroy the Mafia, help each other and GOOD LUCK". photo: Toto' Riina.