The city's street gangs are becoming tweet gangs. Manhattan's young thugs have turned to Twitter, and the cops who track them are fast behind, the Daily News has learned.
It's old-school crime meets new technology: attacks being plotted - and thwarted - 140 characters at a time. One investigator recently warned parents and teens that the bastion of OMG and LOL has been infiltrated by violent crews waging turf wars.
A boy shot in the leg weeks earlier on Lenox Ave. may have been targeted because of a battle the Original Young Gangsters crew started on Twitter. "It's horrible," NYPD Lt. Kevin O'Connor of Manhattan North's gang intelligence unit told a forum in Harlem.
A basic search of the social-networking site for OYG or Jeff Mob, the gang based in the Jefferson Houses in East Harlem, yields shout-outs and throw downs. "I knoe bitches from oyg that would dead mob yah s--t in harlem," one girl wrote in a series of tweets aimed at drawing out a rival for a fight.
Investigators are monitoring the traffic in hopes of sweeping up gang bangers before the bloodshed - and searching Twitter after attacks for clues. "It is another tool ... just like old phone records," a police source said. "We can go through them [messages] to track these guys."
Harlem pastor Vernon Williams, who runs Perfect Peace Ministry Youth Outreach, said his staff uses Twitter, MySpace and instant messaging to keep track of 4,000 at-risk teens. A week ago, Twitter helped the volunteers stop a street war after they saw the Get Money Boys, based in the St. Nicholas Houses on W. 127 St., exchanging threats with Goodfellas and The New Dons, based just a few blocks north.
"They were threatening to go and hurt two people," said Williams, 51, who sent staff out to find the tweeters.
An NYPD spokesman and the Manhattan district attorney's office declined comment on the phenomenon, and Twitter did not respond to e-mails.
Gang members who grew up in the digital age are blasé about their tweeting. One 15-year-old in the 28 Gunnaz gang said it's just like any other "form of communication," except that the world can listen in on the conversation.
That feature can actually fuel disputes. A heated exchange between rivals on the service can turn into a full-fledged beef when others get wind, he said.
A 15-year-old nicknamed Lil V, who belongs to The New Dons, says Twitter is useful for "settin' up the fights" and making plans.
He seemed aware that the cops or anyone else could follow them - and said the gang takes precautions, using lingo gangsters from an earlier era wouldn't even understand. "We got our own page," Lil V said. "Our page is private."