When it comes to disclosing information, many of us are often reserved and will only offer knowledge to people we trust, with one glaring exception. In the age of social media, people are becoming more comfortable with expressing their opinions and letting complete strangers know information about their lives on the Internet. Because so much information is now shared on sites like Facebook and Twitter, police officers around the country have already solved hundreds of crimes by following the trail of tweets to the perpetrator. But did you know that cops are now using Twitter to help detect crimes that haven’t happened yet?
In a presentation on social media and preventable action, statistics show that 3 out of 4 police officers utilize social media channels to investigate and prevent crime. This includes scouring Facebook for terrorist threats and surfing Twitter looking for extremist opinions and views. While some people may view this as an invasion of privacy, law enforcement professionals justify their crime prevention actions by stating they are merely scanning through information that people willfully offer up. Courts have been especially kind to officers using social media outlets to prevent wrongdoing, with 87% of all search warrants utilizing evidence found on communication channels holding up in courtrooms.
Potential For Abuse?
While many view future crime prevention as a great tool in the bag of tricks officers use to catch criminals, others are concerned with just how far law enforcement will go to prevent something that hasn’t happened yet from occurring. With much fuss being made about the NSA’s efforts to keep us safe by monitoring our emails and other information online, concerned citizens are worried about law enforcement overstepping their boundaries. Officers can very easily misinterpret messages and create leads based on false information, especially on social media platforms where people often say things they eventually regret and the tone of conversation can get heated quickly.
Proceed With Caution
What does this mean for everyday people that use social media sites on a regular basis? While it might sound like a good idea at the time to make crazy statements on social media channels, just remember that law enforcement officials are using Twitter and Facebook more frequently to not only catch criminals, but to try and stop crime from taking place at all. If you’ve been accused of a crime you didn’t commit because of something you said online, contact criminal defense attorney Gabe Grasso today to set up a consultation.