Internet Banging: New Trends in Social Media, Gang Violence, Masculinity and Hip Hop

Patton, Desmond Upton; Eschmann, Robert D.; Butler, Dirk A.
Computers in Human Behavior

Gang members carry guns and twitter accounts. Media outlets nationally have reported on a new phenomenon of gang affiliates using social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to trade insults or make violence threats that lead homicide or victimization. We term this interaction internet banging. Police departments in metropolitan areas have increased resources in their gang violence units to combat this issue. Interestingly, there is little to no literature on this issue. We argue internet banging is a cultural phenomenon that has evolved from increased participation with social media and represents an adaptive structuration, or new and unintended use of existing online social media. We examine internet banging within the context of gang violence, paying close attention to the mechanisms and processes that may explain how and why internet banging has evolved. We examine the role of hip-hop in the development of internet banging and highlight the changing roles of both hip hop and computer mediated communication as social representations of life in violent communities. We explore the presentation of urban masculinity and its influence on social media behavior. Lastly, we conduct a textual analysis of music and video content that demonstrates violent responses to virtual interactions.