Utilizing Social Media in InvestigationsNational Police Training
October 12, 2012 — 1,508 views
Utilizing Social Media in Investigations
Social media and investigations of every kind are colliding more every day. For law enforcement, this expanse can create some potential legal problems. The idea that information is available for free on the Internet means that people have to be careful about what they post. However, there are certain expectations when it comes to social media and information sharing, such as being invited to join someone's online social circle.
In order to facilitate the use of the social media in the most effective way, law enforcement use it to check out whatever public information is available. If you don't have your profile locked down for viewing only by friends, then it's very simple for law enforcement to read through your posts, comments and posted pictures. This applies to social media platforms across the board, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and more.
Obviously, if you're not hiding anything, you may not care about what they find. If law enforcement is checking your background and social media standings for potential employment, then you might be a bit more careful about what you post. In light of this, you may be more attentive in terms of how you set the privacy settings of your page, especially in terms of photos.
However, your page is not the only source of information for law enforcement when they are conducting social media investigations. They can also use the pages of your friends to see where you have commented and responded to their online posts. It all depends on how locked down their page is and what is readily available to the general public. Anything beyond that requires a digital warrant, which they can receive if they show reasonable cause.
As far as entrapment and sending friend requests under false pretenses, this is not a legal activity for law enforcement to participate in. That means they have to be honest about who they are and why they are contacting you. If they obtain this private evidence of personal activities through furtive means, it will not be allowed in court.
If you have questions regarding how law enforcement uses social media, you can always ask them as well. This will clear up any questions and let you know what information should be protected the most. Keep in mind anything you put online stays there forever, so don't post pictures and items that could damage your face-time reputation.