Social Media – the latest tool in the fight against crime
Police in the US are turning to Facebook and other social media sites to catch crooks, CNN is reporting.
A suspected gang member in New York, charged with murder and theft, was seen making gang signs on his public wall on his Facebook page. He sent more incriminating information, intimating that he had committed crimes through a private message to one of his friends.
This friend subsequently gave this information to police and a federal judge ruled that the gang member’s right to privacy vanished once he began discussing his activities with his friends.
Law enforcement is taking advantage of the fact that people accept friend requests on Facebook without really knowing who they are. Police are creating fake profiles to view suspected criminals’ photos.
According to the CNN report, 4 out of 5 US law enforcement officials from across different agencies and jurisdictions say they have used social media in some way in order to gather information as part of an investigation.
As well as the investigative skills of the police and FBI, social media has also helped people get themselves arrested through their own stupidity.
A 20-year-old Kentucky man, for example, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge after he posted a photo of himself on Facebook, syphoning petrol from a police cruiser.
There seems to be a misunderstanding about the role of the internet in criminal activities, particularly the potential consequences of what you share on social media.
Any illegal act you document and then post online, is very likely to lead to trouble with the law, even if you’re not intending it for wider public consumption.
Posted by Tim Wright