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Be Careful What You Post Online...The Police May be Watching

More and more people start using social media every single day. They enjoy how easy it makes communicating with a large number of people at one time. Get engaged? Post it on Facebook. Buy a new car? Here's a picture for Twitter. Participate in a drug crime? Tag your friends who were with you.

Police could only hope that someone would put that much information online. However, a growing number of law enforcement agencies have started using social media to investigate various crimes that are happening in their cities.

When someone posts something on Facebook, they can restrict it to a specific group of people. Maybe it's a friends-only post. But, this may not prevent the police from seeing your information.

For example, the last friend request that you accepted? Maybe not a real person. In fact, it could be a profile created by a police officer that is specifically focused on investigating a particular crime. This officer is checking to see if you made his or her job substantially easier by talking about it (or worse, posting pictures) online.

Even if you are careful to screen your friend requests, you might still have problems. Police could see who belongs to your group of friends. They could find someone with an outstanding warrant, and make an arrest. They could offer a deal - in exchange for cooperation against you, they might let your friend go. Once again, police would be able to find out the information they need.

If you have been charged with a crime, do not talk about it on Facebook or Twitter. In fact, you may even want to delete your profile. Evidence implicating yourself could make it incredibly easy for the prosecutors to obtain a conviction.

Source: CNN.com "Police embrace social media as crime-fighting tool" Heather Kelly, August 30, 2012.

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Gregory R. Gifford
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