News Column

Social Media Mob Action Bill in the Works

May 10, 2013

People who use social media and other means of electronic communication to organize mob attacks could face tougher penalties under legislation House lawmakers sent to Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday.

Sponsoring Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, said the legislation was in response to several high-profile incidents in which large groups of teenagers organized on sites like Twitter and Facebook to cause disturbances along Michigan Avenue. The controversy has prompted Chicago police to increase their presence along the popular shopping district heading into the summer months.

"This gives our law enforcement the ability to keep up with the changing times," Mitchell said.

Under the measure, which was approved 102-6, a judge would have the discretion to impose a more severe sentence on anyone who used social media, text messaging or email to orchestrate a mob attack.

Opponents argued the measure was well intentioned but would do little to make streets safer, while at the same time driving up costs if people are given longer jail time.

A spokeswoman for Quinn said the governor would review the bill but is "always interested in good public policy that cracks down on crime."


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