Predictive crime prevention has been taken to a whole new level; police have been building fake user accounts as well as posing as genuine people to gather information about local events. Cops can lure suspects into “friending” them and then use the content of their Facebook, Instagram or other social media accounts against them in court.
Recently there was a case in which District Judge William Martini denied a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence collected from his Instagram after he innocently connected with an undercover account. The defendant argued that the police had no probable cause to search through his Instagram account. Judge Martini argued that because Gaston accepted the request to become friends with the police officers, he enabled law enforcement to view photos and other information that he posted to his Instagram account.
Because of this, the police did not need a search warrant. The information sharing was consensual, the judge ruled.
Here is what a police officer from an unrelated case had to say about the profile sharing: “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,” one officer responded to an open-ended survey question in the DOJ’s guide. “He kept ‘checking in’ everywhere he went, so I was able to track him down very easily.”
More than 80% of the responding officials said social media was a valuable tool for “Crime-fighting” and that “creating personas or profiles on social media outlets for use in law enforcement activities is ethical.”
I would most defiantly not call this ethical at all!
Departments are beginning to use predictive analytical policing software, allowing authorities to patrol local neighborhoods based on social networking posts. If people are emotionally upset and publish it on Facebook, the software program labels the neighborhood high risk, alerting law enforcement to occupy those areas.
“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, circle of friends, family members, relationships, actions, etc.”
In some cases the NYPD has gone to the extreme to use photos of young attractive women on Facebook to spy on gang members, the New York Times reported. Who knows if these photos are even used with consent from the person photographed.
Is this not considered entrapment? This sounds very similar to the notorious Operation Mocking Bird.
Here is How to Identify a Fake User Account on Facebook
- Check to see if the account was made recently.
- No profile picture or only 1 or 2 images set to the account.
- Few friends or no common friends.
- No published history for earlier years, but Facebook says they have been a member since 08 or etc.
- You don’t know who they are, NEVER accept a friend request from a person you do not know.
- Reverse image search is always a handy tool, you can put the image into a search engine to see if they are a real person or not.
If you are in doubt for any reason, DENY!