Almost every person is now connected online with social media. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other social platform, almost anyone can be found online. People can be found by their friends, potential employers, the government, and law enforcement officials alike. A simple google search can lead to a person’s social profile. Law enforcement officials are particularly using social media as an investigative tool when it comes to criminal law. Here are a few ways that social media can be used to self-incriminate a person.
Posting Photos or Videos
Law enforcement officials will be looking at the photos and videos that a person is posting if they think they are potentially engaging in illegal activity. If they find a photo or video which shows the person doing something illegal, that would be enough evidence to find a person guilty. For example, if a person who is underaged posts photos of themselves with a beer bottle in hand to their Facebook or Instagram, those photos can be used by the police as evidence. In one case in 2013, a man posted a video to LiveLeak, a video sharing platform, of him driving while drinking. This video was enough evidence to bring him into police custody and make an arrest.
Status Updates and Tweets
If there is a person who is a suspect in a crime, law enforcement may follow or friend the suspect on their social profiles under an alias. By having access to a suspect’s social profiles, law enforcement can better manage their activities. If a suspect updates their facebook status or tweets out incriminating information, law enforcement can have the evidence they need to bring the suspect into police custody. In a 2009 bank fraud case, Maxi Sopo was a fugitive who was found using social media. After obtaining more than $200,000 from various Seattle banks and credit unions, Sopo was on the run in Cancun. His mistake was updating his Facebook status’ to say: “LIFE IS VERY SIMPLE REALLY!!!! BUT SOME OF US HUMANS MAKE A MESS OF IT…REMEMBER AM JUST HERE TO HAVE FUN PARTEEEEEEE.” and “living in paradise”. These status updates allowed detectives to find Sopo and make an arrest.
Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram can all track a person’s location when posting. By including a location in a post, law enforcement will be able to see a person’s exact location based on posts. If a suspect posts a photo to Instagram and tags the location of the post, law enforcement can go to the location to either find the suspect or gather more evidence to find them.
There are many people who tend to ‘overshare’ on social media. If something can be self-incriminating, it would be best to keep it offline. If you or a loved one may be in trouble because of social media, please call us today to speak to an expert.