In the UK, the names, addresses, and birthdates of convicted criminals are part of the public record. Publishing this information has been common practice for years. But the Greater Manchester Police have taken a step into the Internet age by outing convicted looters on Twitter . Their feed is currently rife with naming and shaming.
Officially, this policy is in place to ensure that people with the same name as the convicted are not mistaken for the wrongdoer. If asked slyly on the side, we imagine there is a certain amount of catharsis for the police in the task of shaming people on Twitter. It helps make the case the individuals are being rounded up and brought to justice.
At this early stage, most of these people either admitted to their crime, or cut a deal. Some have wondered if it is safe to publish the names at this time. There is a significant amount of anger online right now that might lead some to behave badly toward the convicted individuals. It is also a little amusing that the UK government is considering blocking social networking services in the face of “emergencies”. But then where would the police tweet this information?