Sunday, October 18, 2009

Why Willie Sutton Would Not Survive Long With Web 2.0

A couple weeks ago I wrote a piece called What Bankers and Willie Sutton Have in Common. If you recall that post you'll remember who Willie Sutton was...a famous bank robber whose career spanned decades.

The point of that post was not to discuss bank robbery. The point was to make the reader aware of the obvious...people are using social media at an increasing rate and banks should consider whether it makes sense for them.

Like I said, the point of THAT post was not to talk about bank robbery. But that was then and this is now. So today, let's talk about bank robbery.

On October 18, 2009, Seth Liss of the Sun Sentinel newspaper wrote an article called "Social Media the New Crime-Fighter." This article discussed how social media is currently being used by private citizens as well as law enforcement to track down criminals. Through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, people are creating their own version of America's Most Wanted, the popular syndicated television program.

This got me to thinking...again. If law enforcement can post photos and videos on Twitpic, YouTube, etc., shouldn't banks use the same technology in the event of a robbery? While some thought needs to be given to how it is publicized and where it is published, social media can be an effective way to speed up the discovery process in the case of a bank robbery...or any crime, for that matter.

Now, I say some thought needs to be given to the manner of disclosure because no banker would want to general public to get the impression that the bank is Robbery Central and subsequently, unsafe. However, handled properly social media can be an effective tool to closing bank robbery cases and simultaneously act as a preventive tool since no one wants their friends to spot them with women's hosiery over their head (not that there's anything wrong with that!).

I must admit that I haven't given this too much thought and I would probably want to consult a security expert (any out there?) to provide some pros and cons in terms of disclosure. But at a very basic level it seems like something that could work and become incorporated into a bank's overall social media strategy as well as its risk management strategy. Tie a decent bounty to tips leading to an arrest and in this economy you'll have some pretty good success.


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