As of 2016, Facebook has almost 2 billion users and twitter has almost 150 million. That is an extremely large number of people posting a lot of information that literally anyone can see. If you are one of those people, you really need to think carefully about what you post and what it portrays.
91% of adults say they use social media daily and depending upon what is being said, it’s possible the things you say, videos you post, and even pictures you tag whether public or private can prove to be a legal liability. Although social media may seem harmless, these communications are broadcast to the world and can become the best evidence a prosecutor has in in legal proceedings.
Although the police usually need a warrant to search your home, phone or property, they don’t need one for things that are in plain view, such as publicly available spaces; like those noted on social media. Police departments all across the country are using social media not only to collect evidence of criminal activity but also to identify accomplices, discover unknown evidence and generally get a leg up in solving crimes.
Private Isn’t Private Anymore
No matter what your privacy settings are, no matter if your account has been “deleted,” you can still be prosecuted for what you’ve posted online. It doesn’t matter if you deleted a post, removed a tweet, or even deleted your entire profile. Law enforcement can use the things you put on social media or even things other people post/tag/like/snap about you to incriminate you in crimes. In today’s world, the line between public and private no longer exists. Thrill criminals frequently post updates and videos of their crimes as they are occurring not knowing police departments are becoming tech savvy. Even pictures with no identifying markings have been geotagged and tracked to crimes and traced back to the criminals who committed the crime. When you are a defendant in a criminal case it is best to keep completely off social media.
The Police Aren’t Ignorant
Police and prosecutors have gotten very savvy about trolling social media for evidence not only in ongoing cases, but future cases as well. Whether you realize it or not, you leave a trail of digital footprints every time you post something online. The police may also be able to see if you are a member of certain groups or whether you were in the vicinity of certain events or even if you “commented” on certain things indicating a prior knowledge. Furthermore, the police don’t need to “friend” you to see this information, they can merely friend a friend and see your information as well.
When in Doubt, Don’t Post!
The easiest way to stop police and prosecutors from getting access to potentially incriminating information from your social media accounts is to avoid posting. Although you may be tempted to share details about your case with friends online, remember that nothing that goes on the internet is ever truly private and it never goes away. Everything is somewhere. When in doubt, don’t share and don’t post.