Police and Privacy on Social Networks

The issue of privacy on social networks like MySpace or Facebook are nothing new. We’ve all heard of stories where potential recruits lost their chances of landing a job because they had too much revealing information on one of the networks. Others have been fired from their social network addiction. Campus administrators snoop and sniff out students for illicit activities and infractions. Police use it as one of the tools to monitor groups and investigate the background of youth suspects.

What troubles me is that while we have very clear rules governing what police can do as part of an undercover investigation. However when it comes to “online” investigations anything is game. Of course it’s careless and stupid of suspects to put incriminating evidence on their profiles but sometimes the stuff suspects write such as gangsta posturing and what not is used as evidence against them as well.

There is no warrant needed or any rules governing how evidence gathered from online networks is used in a court of law. Even without Homeland Security or FBI liberally wiretapping our phones, our privacy is only a couple clicks away from being the subject of scrutiny by law enforcement.

There’s also the issue of people taking on different personas in the course of their internet adventures. The pressure to be funny or witty or just controversial to peers is probably greater for youth.

There are no easy answers to this and just needs to be served. However, we need to ensure that our privacy and rights are protected from law enforcement agents using social networks solely for the purpose of gathering information and evidence.