Recruitment of Criminals Cannot be Left Unchecked

A situation in which perpetrators are openly recruited to commit crimes on social media must not be overlooked. The government and private operators of social media platforms should swiftly detect nefarious posts and lead efforts to expose the posters of such content and delete these posts.

The government has compiled emergency measures to deal with the problem of “dark” part-time jobs through which people have been recruited for robberies and so-called special fraud on social media. The measures are aimed at strengthening steps to automatically detect recruitment posts with artificial intelligence and urging social media operators and others to delete nefarious posts, among other steps.

From last year to earlier this year, there have been a string of robberies across the country carried out mainly by young people who applied for dark part-time jobs, resulting in fatalities in some cases.

Young people and others who responded to posts offering “¥1 million per day” were ordered by instructors to break into shops and homes to steal money and goods, or to be involved in bank transfer scams.

The perpetrators and the people issuing instructions do not know each other. Even if the police uncover the perpetrators, the authorities struggle to link them back to the instructors. If posts advertising dark part-time jobs are removed and perpetrators cannot be recruited, it will be difficult for the instructors to commit crimes. The measures should serve as a deterrent.

Posts recruiting perpetrators for dark part-time jobs do not include words such as “robbery” that can be easily understood on first reading. They are recruited by using code words skillfully. First of all, the police need to analyze in detail what words are used by recruiters and teach an AI system such words so they can be detected automatically.

The Employment Security Law prohibits the recruitment of workers for the purpose of placing them in harmful jobs, and there are penalties. The government should urge social media operators and others to thoroughly monitor illegal posts. The police are also required to crack down on such activities strictly.

Many of the young people who applied for dark part-time jobs did so for such reasons as they “want money” or were “introduced by friends.” The government’s emergency measures also state the importance of educating young people in schools so they do not turn to crime as if they regard dark part-time jobs as an easy way to earn money.

If young people respond to such posts carelessly, their identities will be known to the instructors and others, who will threaten them and make it impossible for them to quit. The young must be made aware that they could end up being treated inhumanly as if they were worthless and paying a heavy price.

It is hoped that the government will also focus on other measures, such as providing employment support for young people so that those who are out of work and isolated in their communities will not get involved in such crimes.

The measures against dark part-time jobs span many ministries and agencies. For example, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry handles mobile phones used in robberies and special fraud; the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry deals with job recruitment issues; and the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is in charge of educating young people about the dangers of such crimes. It is important to overcome bureaucratic sectionalism and deepen cooperation among them.

In the case of special fraud, there has been a cat-and-mouse game in which every time the crackdown is strengthened, a new scheme appears. The vicious cycle must be stopped.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 22, 2023)