How Law Enforcement Uses Social Media

Posted on in Computer Crime

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Cook County defense lawyerDid you know that law enforcement agencies across the country use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for a variety of purposes? It should come as no surprise, considering data from a 2015 report from SocialTimes shows that the average internet user in America spends 1.72 hours daily on social media sites. In fact, the same survey showed that 28 percent of all online activity in the United States is social media related. In the Age of Technology, even authorities are using social media, sometimes for communication, sometimes for strategizing, and sometimes to solve crimes.

Sharing Information

Many people consume news through social media platforms, and law enforcement agencies nationwide have found sites like Facebook to be a great method for disseminating information. Officials can share any relevant information quickly and ask followers to help spread the news as well. Citizens expect news to be shared in an accessible way, and many agencies report that community members expect police forces to have strong social media presences. Sharing news quickly is especially important in dangerous situations, where authorities can use social media to inform followers of things like areas to avoid.

Preventing Crime

Police also commonly use social media to strategize and prevent crime. Gangs, mobs, and other criminal organizations are connected to social media, and through monitoring those channels, authorities may be able to prevent crimes from taking place in the future. Rival gangs have even been antagonize each other on social media and make plans for violence, which authorities can then prevent.

Authorities can use social media to prevent crime in real time as well. In cases of protests and riots, police can monitor social media to read the attitude of the crowd. If someone participating in a riot tweets that things are about to become violent, authorities can step in to prevent any danger.

Investigating Crimes

Police agencies commonly use social media to investigate crimes that have already occurred. In fact, in a 2013 Police Executive Research Forum report, four out of five agencies nationwide reported using social media for investigative purposes, and 80 percent of authorities surveys said they see the practice becoming more important in the future. Some criminals document their crime and post pictures and videos on social media, leading authorities right to them. Others are smarter, but officers can still “mine” social media for information, allowing them to identify perpetrators, witnesses, and victims. Many witnesses to crime post pictures and videos of the incident after the fact, giving authorities the opportunity to examine the incident and search for clues.

Agencies also commonly request help from the public through social media. A police force may post a picture of an unidentified criminal and ask for help identifying them. They may also request that any victims of a particular crime come forward. Additionally, some police officers report using a fake social media profile to befriend a suspect and gather information.

Use Caution with Social Media

As a general rule of thumb, think carefully before posting on social media. Anything incriminating can come back to haunt you, so avoid posting anything you would not want authorities seeing.

If you are facing criminal charges, due to social media or not, you need the help of a qualified Chicago area criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney, our team works vigorously to defend our clients from the charges they are facing. Depending on your charges, your future may be in jeopardy. From DUIs to gun charges, our team has years handling a variety of criminal cases, and we are available to assist you immediately. Call 312-629-0669 to schedule a free consultation with us today.





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