Sunday, May 15, 2011

Police Spying Backfires As Criminals Use Facebook/Twitter For Surveillance

Recently, there has been a lot of public outcry against police officers using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to spy on supposed criminals. Now, it looks like the criminals are giving the police a taste of their own medicine.

According to a article, police officials are worried that social networking is putting officers at risk.
The article stated: “Criminals are using [social networking] sites to identify and investigate law-enforcement officers, including undercover police. In addition, hostage-takers and suspects who barricade themselves in buildings are monitoring social media to track police movements in real time, and gang members are launching their own surveillance operations targeting police.”
The criminals likely got the idea to use social networking to this end from police, though.

According to, this practice is extremely commonplace, and police from different precincts are sharing the secrets of online surveillance with other officers. “Gang expert George Chavez, a police detective in Wisconsin, said today in an interview that gang members feel secure in putting up information on the Web. But he says police are using tactics to gain access to their sites to gather pictures of suspected gang members and find out about proposed meeting places and activities.”

But an editorial on argues that social network spying has become commonplace — not just for police and criminals, but for everyone.
“To get the details you want, you can look over people’s Facebook pages and LinkedIn pages to get a reasonable amount of background info. You can then check if they have a Twitter account. If so, what do they harp on? Do they use a goofy name? If they have a blog, they’ll probably link it on one of these services. If they do, what is it about?” the editorial said.

“But people should at least be aware that they might be scrutinized based on their online information, even when it is supposedly ‘private.’ While I cannot view people’s private postings, you can be sure the government can.”