Law enforcement officials are increasingly turning to social media networks to help fight crime, according to a recent study discussed in a CNBC article.
Four out of five police investigators have admitted to using social media in their efforts to catch criminals, according to a fascinating survey conducted by LexisNexis.
The websites used most frequently in police officers’ efforts to level criminal charges against suspects include Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, sources say.
The increase in the use of social media networks is due to a common trait among criminals: many of them now use websites like Facebook and Twitter to organize and plan potential crimes.
In addition, criminals who aren’t aware of just how public social media information is often reveal the nature and extent of their crimes on these websites.
According to Haywood Talcove, the CEO of Government Solutions, police officers are using social media networks as a “tool” because they are just “as valuable as a police cruiser or a handgun.”
Talcove also told reporters that criminals frequently display evidence of crimes they commit because criminals, just like newlyweds or your high school friends with new babies, “have the same desire to share and to show-off.”
As a result of this compulsion to share, police officers are often able to gather information on crimes through tweets, Facebook posts, pictures, and other ubiquitous elements of social media.
Interestingly, though, while law enforcement officials are spending a remarkable amount of time surfing the web for evidence of crimes, more than 80 percent of these officials have no formal training in how to mine the websites for information.
In the words of Susan Crandall, one of the leaders of the LexisNexis study, police officers are often taking their own anecdotal knowledge about social networks and simply “teaching themselves on the job.”
Still, despite this lack of training, police officers do not seem to be running afoul of the Constitution, as the evidence obtained through social media is upheld in 87 percent of the cases where it is challenged, sources say.
So, as criminals continue to turn to social media to plan and boast about their crimes, more and more criminal defense attorneys will likely represent clients who are behind bars after foolishly posting evidence of a crime on a common website.
And things could soon get worse for criminals. According to Crandall, law enforcement officials’ use of social media is just “at the beginning of reaching its full potential.”