On Saturday, the state of Illinois toughened penalties for those who use social media to organize “flash mobs” to coordinate criminal activity.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation doubling the maximum prison term for offenders to six years. The legislation was in direct response to recent incidents in downtown Chicago that left business owners fearful that tourists and other visitors would be scared off.
"Nobody should have to worry about a violent mob attack when going about their daily lives," Quinn said in a written statement, calling the use of technology to organize such action a "troubling trend."
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Chrsitian Mitchell, who says the law has to change with the technology.
"In the city of Chicago, gangs have changed," Mitchell said Saturday. "They are now using social networks to organize and mobilize violent activity. The intent of this legislation is to update our laws to reflect how people are using technology to organize crimes in our neighborhoods."
In March, police say a group of teens used Facebook and Twitter to organize and publicize mob action on Michigan Avenue. Several hundred people allegedly ran p and down the street ion the upscale shopping area yelling and bumping into people.