Graffiti vandalism enters the digital age

For many years graffiti vandalism has been kept strictly in the physical world on trains, billboards and buildings but with new technology and more ways of communicating than ever before.

Graffiti vandals have quickly adopted social media as a new tool with which to publish their criminal acts. In recent years there has been a movement by graffiti vandals to use social media tags instead of the more traditional nicknames or street numbers commonly associated with ‘graffiti tagging’.

The most common expressions now appearing on footpaths, trains and public spaces are either “FMOIG” or “FMOT” acronyms meaning “Follow me on Instagram” or “Follow me on Twitter” – each followed by a username to identify the individual and satisfy their need for recognition.

It’s not unusual to see Twitter handles or Facebook names now incorporated as part of graffiti vandalism and in January of 2014, an Urbandictionary definition of FMOIG popped up, making it more or less an official term to describe this phenomena.

Expressions like FMOIG or FMOT are common within the world of social media itself, but they leave a digital footprint.

FMOIG tags are now turning up in vehicles, on poles and walls and especially around heavily used transport hubs.

If written on an impermeable surface, the tags usually disappear after a couple of weeks but in many other places, they have managed to stick around for longer.

This new form of graffiti tagging recognition provides an immediate link back to the individual who ostensibly defaced a piece of public property and in this way, they are like traditional graffiti tags, only far more brazen.