Tweets, gangs, and guns: A snapshot of gang communications in Detroit

Desmond U. Patton, Sadiq Patel, Jun Sung Hong, Megan L. Ranney, Marie Crandall, Lyle Dungy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The aim of this study is to determine the frequency of violent and criminal Twitter communications among gang-affiliated individuals in Detroit, Michigan. We analyzed 8.5 million Detroit gang members' tweets from January 2013 to March 2014 to assess whether they contained Internet banging-related keywords. We found that 4.7% of gangaffiliated user tweets consisted of terms related to violence and crime. Violence and crime-related communications fell into 4 main categories: (a) beefing (267,221 tweets), (b) grief (79,971 tweets), (c) guns (3,551 tweets), and (d) substance use and distribution (47,638 tweets). Patterns in violent and criminal communication that may be helpful in predicting future gang activities were identified, which has implications for violence prevention research, practice, and policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-934
Number of pages16
JournalViolence and Victims
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Springer Publishing Company.


  • Communication
  • Gang
  • Social media
  • Twitter
  • Violence


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