ITALY’S notorious mafia groups are reportedly using social media platforms to promote their clans and assert their power in the country’s poor southern regions.
The Italian mafia, split between several large groups across the country, is one of Europe’s oldest and deeply established criminal systems. Despite decades of relentless government crackdowns, in the deeply deprived southern regions of Italy, various clans like the Ndrangheta exert enormous power over their communities.
Many such groups have now began using social media to bolster their image, in a move that criminologists note is an efficient way to remind locals of their dominance without resorting to violence. In one case a mob boss in Calabria, Vincenzo Torcasio, ran a relatively innocuous Facebook page of 18,000 followers.
Alongside memes and inspirational quotes, the mafioso would insert pictures of large sums of cash and post rants against Italy’s police agencies. The gangster’s side career as a social media influencer was cut short by a 30-year prison sentence.
Mafia experts say that gangs have always used various methods of branding and self-promotion, and that social media is the natural step for groups to remind their areas of their wealth and power in the digital age.
In the Calabrian town of Rosarno, a group of young suspected mafia footsoldiers filmed a gangster rap music video in which they showed off weapons, luxury cars, and expensive jewelry. Viewed over a quarter of a million times on social media, it is believed the video was intended as a recruitment drive for local youths in the region to join the mafia as southern Italy suffers chronic unemployment.
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