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Social Media And Crime: Periscope

Posted by Steve Karimi | May 05, 2016 | 0 Comments

The popular live-streaming app Periscope was started in 2014 by Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein. The pair came up with the idea while they were traveling the previous year. The company was bought by Twitter in 2015 and officially launched March 26, 2015. After just one year, Periscope's users created over 200 million broadcasts. While most users create videos to showcase various daily activities, others have used the app for more nefarious purposes. Specifically, some Periscope users have live-streamed themselves while committing crimes.

Ice Cream Thieves

In Utah in 2015, two teenagers used Periscope to broadcast their theft of ice cream. The teens broke into the refrigerated trailer of a truck and stole some tubs of ice cream. A viewer of the live-stream called the police and gave them information that helped the cops track down the 16-year old who made the video. Both teens ended up confessing to police. They are now facing vehicle burglary and theft charges in juvenile court.

Hunting Down A Rival

Two men who live-streamed their activities in Sacramento are facing criminal charges. In 2015, the pair broadcast their hunt for a third man on Periscope. Damon Batson and Carlos Gonzalez were live-streaming as they drove to confront a man they suspected was with one of their girlfriends. The men brought a gun with them, and when prompted to prove the gun was real by a viewer of the stream, they fired off a shot. When the men reached their destination, no one was home. The video was reported to police a day later. Officers were able to identify the men in the video and both Batson and Gonzalez were arrested. They each face a number of charges from the incident.

Drinking And Driving

In New York, in March of 2016, a graduate student Ahmed Almalki, was driving drunk on the streets of Long Island and using Periscope to broadcast his actions to the world. Viewers of the live-stream called the police. According to CBS2, "[a] dispatcher downloaded the Periscope app, monitored the feed and narrowed down Almalki's location by recognizing landmarks." When New York state troopers pulled him over they smelled alcohol and he failed the field sobriety tests. This was Almalki's second time being arrest for DUI.

Sexual Assault

In February in Ohio, Periscope was used to broadcast the rape of a 17-year old girl. Two people were charged for the event, the rapist and the friend of the victim who live-streamed the event. 29-year old Raymond Boyd Gates and 18-year old Marina Lonina both face a number of charges including sexual battery and rape charges. The victim and Lonina had met Gates just one day prior to the attack and the three of them agreed to meet up the next day. Lonina claims she only filmed the event to gather evidence but, according to the New York Times, the prosecutor in the case said that, "[f]or the most part she is just streaming it on the Periscope app and giggling and laughing." Also according to the Times, the prosecutor stated that Lonina first started filming the attack because she hoped it would stop it but she "got caught up in the likes." Police found out about the broadcast after a friend of Lonina's reported it to police.

Social media use has steadily increased over the past ten years. The Pew Research Center estimates that 65% of all adults are now using social media. That number goes up as the age range lowers, with 90% of young adults (18-29) using social media.

Social media has long been a source of evidence for police. And as the above stories show, live-streaming apps like Periscope will also likely be a way for police to gather evidence against suspected criminals, especially if those criminals broadcast their illicit activities for all the world to see. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, you want an experienced and knowledgeable attorney on your side. Steve Karimi has been a criminal defense attorney in Washington for many years. Don't face the criminal justice system alone, contact our office today.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.

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Named a "rising star" in criminal defense by Washington Law and Politics magazine, Mr. Karimi is a former prosecutor for King County who uses his insight into prosecution strategies to protect his clients' rights in criminal court.