Social media brings a wealth of information and intelligence to crime fighters around the world to help combat terrorist activities, cybercrime, criminal activities and more.
Social media is often referred to as the interaction among people in which they create, exchange and share ideas and information in a virtual network or community.
During this certification program, we will share insights into the most popular social networks, what makes them valuable to consumers, customer experience, the information contained within and how we can use them to our advantage to protect our citizens from criminal activity.
Law enforcement agencies across the country are moving to use social media in investigations, which could provide greater opportunities for test cases in the courts. In fact, viewing posts on social media for criminal investigations was the most common use of social media by the responding agencies.
Other purposes were reported by fewer agencies, such as conducting background investigations of job candidates (cited by 31% of agencies that use social media); “community outreach to build public relations,” 26%; notify in the public of crimes, 23%; and notifying the public of traffic issues, 14%. More than 80% of the responding officials said they believe that social media will be “critically important in the future” for crime-fighting and investigative purposes, that “creating personas or profiles on social media outlets for use in law enforcement activities is ethical,” and that “social media is a valuable tool in investigating crimes.” 48% of responding officials said they already use social media in investigations at least two to three times per week.
Respondents in the LexisNexis survey offered examples of how they use social media in investigations, including the following:
“It is amazing that people still ‘brag’ about their actions on social media sites…even their criminal actions. Last week, we had an assault wherein the victim was struck with brass knuckles. The suspect denied involvement in a face-to-face interview, but his Facebook page had his claim of hurting a kid and believe it or not, that he dumped the [brass knuckles] in a trashcan at a park. A little footwork…led to the brass knuckles being located and [a confession] during a follow-up interview.”
Location of Suspects
“I was looking for a suspect related to drug charges for over a month. When I looked him up on Facebook and requested him as a friend from a fictitious profile, he accepted. He kept ‘checking in’ everywhere he went, so I was able to track him down very easily.”
Criminal Network Identification
“Social media is a valuable tool because you are able to see the activities of a target in his comfortable stage. Targets brag and post…information in reference to travel, hobbies, places visited, appointments, the circle of friends, family members, relationships, actions, etc.”