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How Police are Really Using Social Media

Police OfficerIn today’s day and age of sharing every aspect of our lives with friends and family via social media, it is more important than ever to remind ourselves that what we post is indeed public. Whether you are looking for a job or suspected of a crime, anyone can view what you have released into the virtual world.

Here is how police are really using social media to help solve crimes.

Flash Mobs

Law enforcement rarely cares about flash mob proposals, birthday wishes, or celebrations. What they do care about are flash mobs coming together to commit a crime. Police use social media in real time to come together in the same way that these flash mobs do.

Scene of the Crime

It is not unusual for police to release videos or photographs of crime scenes. Law enforcement do this with the hopes that someone will recognize the people in the photo. At other times, police will use cell phone photographs to place phone owners at the scene of the crime.

Threat Assessment

People say things on social media in the heat of the moment, and police understand this. It is important, however, to understand that if you post that you are going to shoot up a school, murder your spouse, or even kill yourself, you can expect a knock on your door. Police use social media posts and related information to analyze threats and determine their validity.

Fake Accounts

Here is a good rule of thumb: If you do not know a person, do not friend them on social media sites. Police agencies around the country are creating fake social media accounts in order to gain information, particularly in schools. As soon as you friend someone, that person, real or fake, has access to everything that you share.

Are you worried? You shouldn’t be. If you are the average, law-abiding citizen, continue using your social media accounts in any way that you desire. If, on the other hand, you are leading a nefarious life of crime, think twice about what you are releasing into the virtual world.

As always, the best rule when it comes to social media is this one: If you wouldn’t say it or share it in real life, don’t share it on social media. Once you put it out there, it is out there for everyone to see…even the police.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.