Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Facebook tagging leads police to suspects in home invasion party.

A Florida family on vacation had no clue their home was invaded by friends of their teen children, and used for a party while they were away. A Charlotte news outlet reports that only after Dad saw Facebook videos did he understand that his home had been converted to Party Central in his absence. The intruders had cleaned up, and left no evidence of the intrusion--except for photos posted to Facebook.

But this is more than another Facebook related story about "teens-have-no-judgment-and-do-dumb-things."  The most important part of the story is that "[o]fficers have a list of suspects, thanks to photo tagging..."
Facebook use is not anonymous.  When you log on and post, you must imagine that you are standing in the park, at noon, wearing an embarrasingly tight bathing suit as everyone in your hometown walks past, including the Chief of Police.  It is a source of information about you, your life, your contacts, where you've been, and what you've done---to others, and with others---and possibly in violation of the law.
Your content is all subject to use in the criminal courts, in Maryland and abroad. You can even be served through your Facebook account!

But there is another facet of this story that is only suggested by the text: Dad had access to the kids' Facebook pages. The story suggests that he saw the video posted on someone's page, other than his own kid's, and that alerted him to the crime. Good for him! Frankly, if your kids are using social media, then you must know enough to monitor your kids on social media.

And there is a darker aspect of Facebook posting.  The Dallas Morning News reported that a woman upset about the court testimony of an undercover police officer against her buddy, "outed" the officer through his Facebook posting on his (the cop's) relative's Facebook page. Her friend then printed up fliers, to be posted around town, identifying the officer. The article points out that even police departments are having a tough time articulating Facebook and social media policies, even for their undercover folk.