Police call it “cyberbanging” — gang members greating Web sites to brag about affiliations, skipping school, getting high, and battling rival gangs, the Washington Post says. Many postings deal with Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a Latino gang that has been spreading quickly across the Washington, D.C. region and elsewhere in recent years. It’s likely that the cyberbangers actually are gang members, said police Sgt. George Norris of Prince George’s County, Md., head of a 16-member regional gang task force. “If you portray yourself as being MS-13 and you’re not, when they find out about it, they kill you just as if you’re a rival gang member,” Norris said.
Investigators use the sites to track the growing gang problem and to catalog members. Most cyberbangers on Web pages examined by the Post are teenagers who design their pages to flash in-your-face images of gang flags, hand signs, marijuana, women, stacks of cash, and “original gangster” scrolls certifying them as legitimate. Some show pictures of themselves with guns and bandannas covering their faces below the eyes, casting menacing glances. The sites use members’ nicknames and rarely refer to legal names. The pages are legal.