Maybe you like to use Facebook to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen since you graduated from high school twenty years ago. Who needs a reunion in the school gymnasium when you can catch up virtually every day? Or, perhaps your family is scattered across the country and Facebook is a wonderful way to share photos and life events. This social media tool also has proven pivotal in political campaigns, protest movements, and issue awareness. Now, members of law enforcement are increasingly finding that Facebook can help in their efforts as well.
Police officers are turning to Facebook to find evidence of criminal activity. It’s amazing that some criminals cannot help but brag to their online friends about murder, theft, or violent gang activity. And, if just one of these friends is willing to share his Facebook page with authorities, prosecutors now have evidence that can be used in court. The law currently sees the receipt of this information as being no different than someone walking into a precinct and sharing what he overheard last night while sitting around at a friend’s apartment. When there are no available friends to allow access to a suspect’s Facebook activity, police officers overwhelmingly affirm that they have no ethical issue with creating a fake profile in to “friend” a suspect.
In a recent survey conducted by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, four out of five officials share that they use social media in their work to track down criminals and build evidence against them. Some are now even being trained formally in the in and outs of social media in order to make the most of their searching efforts.
This investigative approach is not without its share of critics. Should members of law enforcement be allowed to create fake identities in order to track a suspect, much like undercover operations that have been taking place for decades? In what instances, at what level of credible threat, should police officers be allowed to force social media giants like Facebook and Twitter to hand over information about one of their users?
What are your thoughts on the role that social media plays in bringing criminals to justice?
In DEAD GAME, Emily Stone and cops try to track a serial killer through technology. But, what they don’t know is that the killer is tracking them. Are you game?
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