Drs. Damien Huffer and Shawn Graham (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada) are co-founders of a new group that is trying to help spread awareness of its mission and goals. Called ACCO (Alliance to Counter Crime Online), this new endeavor unites experts in studying or actively investigating cases concerning online drugs, wildlife, Near Eastern antiquities and sex trafficking. They are fighting to push dangerous organized criminal activity off social media platforms. They seek to inform and educate U.S. lawmakers, regulators and the public about the shocking array of criminal activity occurring – almost entirely unregulated – on U.S. publicly listed social media platforms. Facebook and Instagram in particular are ground zero for an array of organized crime and other illegal groups to connect, advertise, and move material. This criminal activity often occurs in secret and private groups and at times openly.

ACCO is collectively developing new methods to verify the authenticity of images or other information that is posted online, making attempts to verify actual illicit activity occurring in real life through direct communication with the victims, perpetrators, or other sources where possible, and in conjunction with law enforcement. In many cases, ACCO members have provided evidence of their findings to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, or supported law enforcement directly to counter crime.

In these early days, they are working on establishing a digital presence and attracting funding for research, documentation and outreach efforts as future initiatives are planned. You can follow them here, or on Twitter @CounteringCrime.