How Might Law Enforcement Use Social Media to Find Suspects?
Aug. 6, 2019
A 29-year-old fugitive whose purported crime spree began in Woodstock, Georgia, was tracked down by law enforcement officers through social media. He was apprehended in Colorado and found in violation of his parole. As reported by the Vail Daily, he was caught when he posted on Facebook that he needed a ride.
The events leading to the man’s most recent arrest began when he decided to leave a halfway house on his own instead of carrying out his full sentence. He borrowed his roommate’s Volkswagen, and when it broke down, he posted messages to a private Facebook group telling other members that he needed a ride. Staff workers at the local county sheriff’s office found his post and ran a check on him. After seeing there were felony warrants out for his arrest, they decided to pick him up.
All activity posted on your Facebook page or other social media profiles are available to the public. Even if you change your settings to “private” or are a member of a restricted group, people who you might not want to see your posts may still be privy to your personal life. What many social media users may not understand is how other internet surfers may take screenshots or copy the contents that you posted to a private group. These materials may then get shared with other people – or even law enforcement – by email. They may also be posted to a different group or uploaded to another social media network. Sometimes, undercover law enforcement officers may pose as members of an exclusive group in order to find clues of illegal activities that are allegedly being discussed or committed.
This information is provided for educational purposes, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.