It's a social world out there.

Who is using social media dangerously?

Posted on: February 7, 2010

Social media outlets are leading law enforcement to criminals in ways other forms of communication never could.  The legal implications of social media expand far beyond the negative infringements on copyright and defamation that have been covered in earlier posts, the implications of social media have also had their positive effects on the legal system. Laws continue to struggle to keep up with technology, however, they are making the jobs of law enforcement officials easier in many ways.  Criminals are using many social media outlets to communicate just like everyone else.  And like many other these criminals are not realizing how far their tweets and facebook status’ might go, or who might read them and where they might be used again them.

My posts have many times before mentioned how social media posts are being used in criminal trials to prove guilt or innocence.  The constant connectivity lends users to on many aspects of their personal lives, for criminals this is meaning they are leaving a trail.  According to a  recent Washington Post article, criminals, specifically gang members use of social media outlets, facebook and twitter in on the rise.  These groups are using the new media communication tools to share all kinds of incriminating information, and most of it is open for law enforcement to see relatively easily.  Officials use the anonymity of the internet and pose as young women to gain entrance into groups where they become privy to an ongoing conversation between members. (1) It is also common practice for social media services to comply with law enforcement requests, making their investigations run that must more smooth.

No matter the content users should always realize that the information they are posting can be used against them, in this case it is a good thing.  Officials are finding information through social media they never would have otherwise.  The increased use of social media among gang members may seem scary members of sites such as twitter and facebook, but it is good to know law enforcement agencies are closely monitoring the activities here. Just how law enforcement will continue to take advantage of the interaction taking place online is unknown, but it is clear this type of lead tracking works well and is being accepted as legitimate evidence, therefore it is likely they will continue to employ these tactics as well as explore further possibilities of social media tracking.

1) WATKINS, T. (2010, February 2). Use of Twitter, Facebook rising among gang members – washingtonpost.com. washingtonpost.com – nation, world, technology and Washington area news and headlines. Retrieved February 7, 2010, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/02/AR2010020200499.html

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