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Is fear of crime going viral through social media?

It was a series of compelling photographs - of an elderly man, covered in blood everywhere - a clear indication of a violent crime having taken place.

Within the next 24 hours, photographs of the blood-splattered man - victim of a mugging in the car park of the 1Utama shopping mall - were seen by at least 4,000 people.

News reports the following day identified the man as a 69-year-old trader who only wanted to be known as Lim.

Earlier this month, another warning of a violent crime made its rounds on the online social networks.

Though not accompanied with gory pictures this time, the Facebook note tells an equally harrowing tale, attributed to a Singapore-based news channel, of a 'stab and rob' syndicate and its victims.

This Facebook note is, to this day, circulating within cyberspace and through mobile networks via messaging applications such as Whatsapp.

Only this time there is a problem - both the Singapore news channel and police have denied the existence of the news report, saying that nothing about the posting is true.

Are social media users, in their earnest intention to prevent crime, spreading fear and paranoia?

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