Online Gangbangin’: Flaunt It, Boast About It, Busted

Gang members are using the Internet to show off guns, flash wads of cash and threaten rivals. And the police are watching.

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The beat comes in—a rapid high-hat, laced with a dope-smoking, hypnotic keyboard punch—and then the hook, an ode to how Twain Gotti, a 22-year-old rapper from Newport News, Va., will ride out on his enemies.

Gotti proceeds to spit the lyrics that got him arrested for an unsolved murder in 2007:

Listen, walk to your boy and I approached him/12 midnight on his traphouse porch and everybody saw when I motherf--kin’ choked him/but nobody saw when I motherfu--kin’ smoked him, roped him, sharpened up the shank, then I poked him.

The song first appeared on MySpace and then popped up on YouTube. It currently has more than 50,000 views.

Antwain “Twain Gotti” Steward would be arrested in 2013 and charged with double murder—of a 16-year-old and his friend, who were shot dead on their porch in 2007—after a detective followed up on a tip about the rapper’s lyrics, the Daily Mail reports.

Police are increasingly taking to the Internet highway to cut down, stop and even arrest those who terrorize the streets.

As social media grows, reputed gang members across the country are using the platforms to flaunt guns and wads of cash, threaten rivals, intimidate informants and, in a small number of cases, sell weapons and drugs—even plot murder, the Associated Press reports.

“What’s taking place online is what’s taking place in the streets,” David Pyrooz, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Sam Houston State University who has studied gangs and social media in five big cities, told AP. “The Internet does more for a gang’s brand or a gang member’s identity than word-of-mouth could ever do. It really gives the gang a wide platform to promote their reputations. They can brag about women, drugs, fighting ... and instead of boasting to five gang members on a street corner, they can go online and it essentially goes viral. It’s like this electronic graffiti wall that never gets deleted."

As the social landscape changes, police are now monitoring gang activity online and even using a gang’s social media exploits to issue arrests.

Recently, some Chicago gangstas took to YouTube to create a music video of sorts. The bare-chested young men spouted expletive-laced lyrics and warned rival gangs not to play with them, all the while pointing assault weapons directly at the camera. They flashed gang signs while making it clear to everyone listening that they weren’t afraid to shoot.

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