Social Media: A Tool for Criminals and Law Enforcement

JACKSON, MS – Tools such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are often used to connect friends, but these social media sites are also used to catch criminals.

The only reason some of these suspects are caught is because they show off the stolen items in posts for the world to see. We’ve seen pictures of a dog fighting ring, posted by the very people who set it up and were later arrested. We’ve also seen items like a shiny necklace, leather belt, and new shoes – all posted on either Facebook or Instagram, not by the people who bought them, but instead by the people who stole them.

Josh Frazier, a Clinton PD detective, explains how law enforcement has used popular social sites to get useful information and make arrests.

“It was bizarre in the beginning but it’s becoming a great investigative tool. People put a lot of stuff on the Internet that they shouldn’t and people don’t understand that everything they put on there is there forever. The department started using Facebook about three years. When selfies really came into a fad is when we started using it a lot because we could get up to date pictures of people we were looking for,” he explains.
Detective Frazier also says they set up fake accounts to become friends with suspects. He says:

“We’re friends with a lot of people we’ve arrested and they just don’t know it.”

Social media is also a tool for crime victims who can simply picked up the phone and alert police if they recognize items stolen from them on social media.

While it’s proven effective to create fake accounts through Facebook and here on Instagram, an app even more devoted to pictures and videos than even Facebook, some believe privacy is at stake.

“Anything you put on the Internet is for the public to view and it can be obtained. If you’re posting illegal activity we’re going to use it against you,” says Detective Frazier.

Officers said they have subpoenaed Facebook Instagram and even Snapchat to get the necessary information for their investigations. They say criminals also use these sites to see when people go on vacations and what items people have throughout their homes.

Police want to remind everyone to think before you post.

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