A story out of Egypt that’s capturing worldwide media attention is centered on some graffiti that was left on an ancient Egyptian monument by a Chinese tourist. The message he left was simple: “Ding Jinhao was here”. Many of us have left a similar message before – usually in the sand at the beach or on a bathroom stall in the middle of nowhere. But this wasn’t a beach or a bathroom stall. This was the 3,500 year old Luxor Temple. You can’t simply clean it off with water.
The boy’s graffiti was originally photographed by another Chinese tourist who shared it on the Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo, expressing shame over what had been done to the ancient monument. Many Weibo users expressed similar sentiments and several vowed to identify the vandal. The photo spread across the social media network like wildfire, receiving over 18,000 comments and being shared almost 90,000 times. This widespread exposure quickly lead to the discovery of the vandal’s identity.
The boy was eventually identified as fifteen year old high school student Ding Jinhao of Nanjing. Since being identified as the vandal, Ding Jinhao has become the target of much criticism. His parents, however, have shouldered the responsibility for their son’s actions in a public statement, saying that they should have supervised and raised their son better. This has not been an easy time for the family. Others have also remarked that this incident and incidents like it are part of a larger problem – a lack of respect for historical and cultural heritage. For example, Chinese graffiti can also be found scattered across the Great Wall of China.
Whatever the ultimate source of the problem may be, this story serves as an example that observant, clever, and diligent users of social media can be a force for cracking down on some of the social and criminal problems that we face today. This infographic further explains how social media is now being used by law enforcement agencies and the general public to identify people and locations, discover areas of criminal activity, and both public notification and community outreach programs.