(CBS 5) Young people who visit social networking sites to download music and pictures glorifying criminal street gangs can unwittingly set themselves up to be recruited by those gangs, according to law enforcement officials and youth counselors.
San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer, who speaks for the San Mateo County gang task force, said gang leaders are aware that kids like to socialize on sites such as MySpace and YouTube.
"We're seeing our gangs and the resurgence of some of the gang members coming back from prison looking more and more to those middle schoolers and the younger kids to recruit them," said Manheimer.
Manheimer said kids get into discussions in the comments sections of web sites, and engage in everything from vicious threats to what seems to be innocuous chit-chat.
"The type of profiling they're doing of themselves makes them prey to predators and also at odds with and challenging other gangs," said Manheimer. "So, we'll see something start on the Internet, and actually turn into an assault or a gang fight that actually results out of Internet profiling."