Sunday, November 29, 2009

Incriminating yourself, Internet style

Ah, the joys of social networks. Sharing your favorite activities, legal and not so legal, with family, friends and the police.

Yes, the police.

It seems that law enforcement has been unusually ready to embrace change when it comes to social networks like Facebook. Frankly, I'm glad they have. They catch sexual predators using chat and social networking sites. Very good thing. They also catch under age drinkers, particularly stupid drug dealers, and various other criminals (advice: posing for pictures with the loot you stole is not smart).

In the Lacrosse, WI Times this weekend I read about officers browsing Facebook to catch underage drinkers. College students post pictures on Facebook, officer sees picture, profile tells the story, and student gets an invitation to the police station where they get a ticket which they can pay or fight. The practice is not popular with students:

“I feel like it is shady police work and a waste of taxpayer money to have him (an officer) sit on the computer on Facebook when he could actually be doing police work,” said Luebker.

Uhm, dude, that cop sitting on the computer just busted you. That would be "doing police work. " You incriminated yourself by putting the evidence up on a public forum. It may seem like I have something against Facebook, but I will continue to talk about this the public nature of social networking as long as I see frequent quotes like this one:

“I feel like it is a breach of privacy,” Stenholt said. “You feel like you should be able to trust cops.”

Despite their best efforts to claim otherwise, Facebook provides no privacy. If it did, you wouldn't see quotes like that practically every day.

[Edited by Bert @ 6:52am for clarity and 12:27pm to provide link I thought was already done]