A seemingly innocuous incident at a Pittsburgh Steelers game over the weekend prompted concern about the consequences of law enforcement mining social media to predict crimes.

At Saturday’s Ravens-Steelers playoff game, a Steelers fan named Jake Berlin sent out a Twitter message stating he would run onto Heinz Field if 400 people “retweeted,” or resent, his message.

“Screw it, #Steelers are losing anyway. 400 RTs and I’ll run onto Heinz Field,” Berlin tweeted.

More than 6,000 people retweeted Berlin’s message, but Berlin had no opportunity to carry out the dare.

He informed his followers he was removed from the stadium by security.

In Berlin’s case, stadium security likely was responding according to its own rules. However, the use of social media by law enforcement agencies to predict crimes could become a reality.

One recent private project aims to predict criminal activity using vast quantities of data on citizens mined from social network websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

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