CAN POLICE USE FACEBOOK TO INVESTIGATE YOU?
We are living in the age of social media. People post and share a wide range of information via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. A recent article from WDSU news shows that law enforcement is getting in on the act in a unique way in order to track down alleged criminals and criminal activity.
Police Seek Information From Facebook Users
According to the article, a woman was approached by a man in a Florida Target who asked her indecent questions. She had been approached by the same man previously, so she knew what was coming and took out her cellphone to capture him on video. She then posted the video on Facebook and learned that the same man had approached many other women with the same questions in local stores.
The response to the video led the police department to put out a call on Facebook that identified the man and asked people to come forward if they have been approached by him. Over 60 women have come forward at this point.
There have been many instances of people posting about illegal activity on social media or even posting incriminating pictures, and police using these posts as evidence. What makes this case different is that it is the police that are doing the posting, and they are doing it not because a crime has been committed, but to find out if a crime has been committed. As the article states, asking questions, even indecent ones, is not necessarily a crime, and the man has yet to be charged.
What Are The Rights Of The Accused In These Situations?
This is all very new, and it has yet to be seen whether the Facebook investigation will lead to criminal charges, and whether or not it is acceptable for police to pursue investigations in this manner. Still, people must be aware that police are venturing into the realm of social media in many ways, and care must always be used when posting anything online. Furthermore, everyone must remember that simply deleting posts does not necessarily mean they are gone. Things posted online, even in jest, can come back to haunt the poster even after they have been deleted.
Anyone who believes they are being investigated, online or off, by law enforcement has the right to seek guidance from an experienced attorney. An attorney can assist in protecting your constitutional rights while working to prevent criminal charges from being filed, or to mitigate charges if they are filed.
At the law office of Phillip A. Linder, we have more than 20 years of experience helping people who have been investigated for or accused of crimes. We are prepared to address unique Facebook and social media issues that arise in modern criminal law matters.