Technology has connected humans in ways that we never could have imagined over a decade ago. With the click of a button, we are now able to cast our feelings openly without discretion, sharing huge amounts of information regarding our daily lives. The ubiquity of social media is also being capitalised by individuals involved in criminal activities, who in most cases, tend to be astute and inventive in their ways of communicating with potential targets. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and many other online platforms are regularly used by criminals to post their exploits.
Law enforcement officers have woken up to the fact that they will have to be innovative in an evolving society and have now resorted to the use of social media by setting up fake profiles to befriend unsuspecting drug dealers who link up with their customers via twitter or facebook and disclose their locations using sites like Foursquare as a means of arranging for the pick up and distribution of their “stash”. Information that may not be easily obtained publicly can still be accessible despite the settings of a facebook account being private. Having account settings as private as possible does not mean information can not be hacked into especially if one happens to have friends who are not tech savvy.
In areas such as Ohio, Cinnicinati in the USA, law enforcement officers have adopted the strategy of setting up social networking profiles which are then used for information gathering. At least 10% of law enforcement officials surveyed by Lexis Nexis are said to have received training on how to use social media for investigations.
Social media updates provide a steady flow of information which gradually paints a picture of what a particular persons life looks like. While the use of evidence gathered from social media is still relatively small, we will see a huge change in years to come as technology continues to advance.
- What Does Social Media Say About Americans? (brainz.org)
- Social media can help you spread the word (basicallybaking.wordpress.com)