Just because someone on Facebook is friends with 23 of your friends doesn’t mean any single one of those 23 people has meet that person in real life. Should you add them if they ask to be your friend? Well, if you post updates about your drug dealing, child prawning, gun smuggling, car jacking, identity-frauding tewwowist activities, maybe not. But then again, if you’re that busy you may not have time for Facebook.

According to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Federation, US Law enforcement have been using social networking sites to gather crime fighting info. Or at least that what’s agents tell their bosses as they cruise the intert00bs for strange.
PC World reports

The following information is listed as being useful evidence that can be gathered from social networking sites:

  • Reveal personal communications
  • Establish motives and personal relationships
  • Provide location information
  • Prove and disprove alibis
  • Establish crime or criminal enterprise

While Twitter won’t “preserve data without legal process,” Facebook will comply with emergency requests. And there’s nothing stopping agents from giving themselves an identity and beginning to collect friends in order to move towards accessing their target. Agents can’t impersonate you or some other “real” person, but they can become a plausible looking goofball with similar interests and start clicking away, linking to people.

I actually don’t have a huge problem with that because undercover work is part of investigations and if anyone is dumb enough to talk about their crimes on a semi-public forum, well um…gosh. Yeah.

And hopefully agents aren’t just spending time on FB and Twitter looking for trouble, but rather using the social networking sites to further ongoing investigations.

Facebook has privacy settings–use them. And don’t add everyone who asks–especially if you plan on posting a status update about how easy it was to rob that bank in Oxnard.

Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.