When riots broke out in Vancouver after—of all things—a loss in a hockey game, the online video world exploded with eyewitness video shot on camcorders and mobile devices. And the same thing happened with the riots this week in the UK. In both cases, those eyewitness videos, many of which have gone viral, have helped to identify individual rioters so they could be charged for their crimes.
I'm only the millionth person to say this, but here goes: Don't do anything in public that you aren't comfortable with the entire world seeing. That's really the kind of society we live in now. Surveillance cameras were one thing, but now that every Tom, Dick, & Harry on the street has a video camera in their pocket, it's a lot harder for things that happen in public to stay private or anonymous.
The thing of it is, most of the rioters in both the Vancouver and UK riots are the exact type of person you would expect to already be aware of how ubiquitous mobile video cameras have become: young people. They use their mobile devices multiple times a day, often to take images or video of what goes on around them.
But when they're standing in a crowd of a thousand people... lighting things on fire and looting... they don't realize that surely someone is filming it? Many of them film their own criminal activity, for crying out loud. Maybe it's the bravado of youth, but consequences appear to go out the window sometimes.
But eventually, it catches back up to you.
Here's a man stealing from an injured teenager, viewed over 3 million times so far:
Here's a video from Russia Today that shows rioting and fires in London:
Here's a video shot by an eyewitness in a car of looting going on in broad daylight:
Every one of those clips above, and the hundreds more like them, contain images of people who are practically begging to be identified and locked up.
About 1,700 rioters have been arrested so far, many because they were identified in amateur online videos of the riots. Here's a rundown from Yahoo News on some of the rioters who have been caught thus far.
Now, I'm sure there are some people who would tell you about the mob mentality. And I'm sure that many people who get caught up in riot behavior are acting more out of raw emotion than common sense. But the fact remains: Anyone who participates in riots in this day and age is just plain dumb. For that matter... anyone who commits any kind of crime in a public place with witnesses is dumb.
These days, it takes no time at all for a citizen to recognize a good video opportunity when they see it. Before you can finish tipping over that car or robbing that bank... someone's going to get you on film.