Malaysian mobsters recruit teens on Facebook

The Malaysian government has announced that it is cracking down on mobsters who are using Facebook to hire teenagers to join their gangs.

The gangs have begun using social media as a way to recruit new members, often targetting people who are still in secondary school. A number of students told the Malaysian newspaper The Star that they were invited to join the gangs through Facebook wall posts.

Some of the gangs use a number as a codename, such as the Satu Hati gang, which is numbered 36, apparently. There are dozens of these throughout Malaysia, but this is the first time social media has been used to actively entice people into their ranks.

The gangs specialise in different areas, with some focusing on drug trafficking and others on money laundering. The Malaysian government said it would treat all of the gangs with the same severity usually reserved for terrorism.

The Minister for Home, Hishammuddin Hussein, said that the government is bringing in its Information, Communications and Culture ministries, along with the Multimedia Commission and the police to tackle the problem.

Hussein said that these gangs pose an international threat as much as a national one. The use of Facebook for this begs the question if other gangs throughout the world might attempt a similar approach for recruitment.