Is Your Social Media Friend a Cop?

As the age of technology and social media progress, you never know who may be watching. It has recently been highlighted that many potential employers check social media accounts when making hiring considerations. While many people can put on a front when they first start dating, social media does not lie. Many of us use social media to check out potential lovers, friends, and co-workers. The police are begging the question why not use social media to help catch criminals?

The use of social media to police crime may seem like a crazy concept, but when you consider that many people expose their true selves online it suddenly becomes a reasonable option. Within the safety of one’s own home the illusion of power and anonymity is created. It is easy to say things online when hiding behind the screen of the computer. Criminals find it easy to brag of their crimes to a large audience, while feeling invincible. Social media becomes an outlet to brag of exploits.

Furthermore, law enforcement is becoming aware that many modern-day crimes are linked with social media. It is common for victims, witnesses, and suspects to all be a part of the social media world and thus a crime is often connected to some degree with social media.

Social media is particularly beneficial for law enforcement seeking to collect evidence. To search someone’s house for evidence requires a long legal process of obtaining a search warrant and giving a guilty criminal ample time to destroy evidence. Social media is a public outlet that anyone with internet access can view. This is especially convenient for law enforcement as they are often able to easily uncover incriminating videos, facts, and photos. With the advent of Facebook live, some people even manage to reveal themselves in the act of committing a crime.

Frequently, Facebook friends can be the ones responsible for saving evidence and contacting the police with evidence of a crime. Even if the criminal decides to delete the incriminating evidence, countless people have already seen the content and are able to produce saved footage and witness testimony, further assisting law enforcement in catching the perpetrator.

While to some degree, police monitoring of personal social media may seem intrusive to our privacy, is it possible this practice could be largely beneficial in the protection of society as a whole? The use of social media in police investigations has been shown effective in preventing crime in many instances. Many crimes are revealed to be occuring or about to occur via social media. This gives law enforcement the upper hand in preventive police work, saving countless lives.