The social media website Facebook has expanded over the past few years and it is estimated that there are now over 8 million people who are signed up to the website. The following link illustrates how the website has become the biggest social media website http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics. The central theme of the website is about connecting people, but the law enforcement agencies have now taken advantage of this platform to catch bad elements that are wanted for a variety of crimes. The law enforcement agents have used a number of ways to nab the criminals.
The creation of individual Facebook pages and groups has helped to catch criminals. Most members update their profiles by uploading photos and giving out detailed information about themselves. This can come back to haunt a criminal because the law enforcement agencies are taking advantage of all this information to create leads. The photo of a criminal will be matched with photos on the Facebook profile.
In August 2011, the United Kingdom witnessed a lot of mass riots in the major cities. A number of people were caught by having their photos published online. Using the criminal watch list and uploading the captured CCTV videos and photographs made it much easier to identify the rioters. There are also Facebook groups that have been created to help build a partnership between law-abiding citizens and the police. Photos of the rioters were posted on the site and the culprits’ arrested. Through the interaction there is a great possibility of getting vital tips to get the criminals.
Facebook status updates have also being useful in getting criminals behind bars. By updating the status on the website police can get a hint of the location of the criminals. If the criminals are foolish to update their comments recklessly, police can take advantage as the following link shows http://www.simplythelaw.net/2010/11/09/five-criminals-who-got-caught-because-of-facebook/ In all the cases law enforcement agents used the status update to full use and managed to catch the culprits.
Status updates on Facebook can also be used in another way by the law enforcement agencies. If a criminal is always updating the Facebook status it could be used by the law enforcement agents to nail evidence against the criminal. If the criminal gives contradictory evidence in court a conviction can be secured.
The arrest of the Mafia leader Pasquale Manfredi in March 2010 in Italy showed how Facebook is effective in tracing wanted criminals. The mafia leader regularly logged onto the social networking site so often that the detectives were able to trace his hideout using sophisticated electronic tracking equipment. Surveillance equipment showed that he was hiding in a one bed- room flat in Southern Italy.
Law enforcements agents can also use pseudo names in order to monitor suspects on the website. By sending out a friend request to suspects can lead to a situation whereby a lot more information can be revealed. The circle of friends for the suspect can also be used to extract information. The law enforcement agencies can allow one to view the profile and extract information that can be vital in tracing the suspect. One advantage that Facebook has is the ability of being discreet. There are a lot of people who are hesitant to inform police of a particular happening. With Facebook however the law enforcement officers can gather a lot of intelligence from the community. This makes it much easier to arrest criminals.
While the number of people caught using Facebook by law enforcement officers is still low, there is no denying that there is an increase in law enforcement agencies that are beginning to actively monitor and try to find ways of outsmarting criminals on Facebook so that they are brought to justice.