Facebook related stories popped up twice in my newsfeed the other morning.
The first, a suspect arrested for plotting to bomb the U.S. Federal Reserve used Facebook as part of his method to plan the attack. In the second story , a South Carolina family discovered their home had been the site of a party while they were on vacation thanks to photos posted on the social media site.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, a 21-year-old Bangladeshi student entered the U.S. on a student visa in January. In July, he contacted a confidential informant to let him know he was interested in developing a terror cell. At least some of the early conversations between Nafis and the FBI informant took place on Facebook.
In the second story, a South Carolina family may never have known their home had been used for a wild party had one of the party-goers not uploaded photos to the social media site. The man was looking through photos on Facebook when he noticed the setting of one wild teen party looked strikingly familiar. Apparently, while the family was on vacation in New York, friends of his children broke into the house and partied hard. Photos were posted of teens throughout the house, one vomiting in the kitchen sink, another perched shirtless on a bed, still others performing “lewd acts”. Not only was the teen foolish enough to put the evidence of his crime online for everyone to see, he did the police a second favour by tagging his friends in the photos. On the upside, the teens were thoughtful enough to return the day following the party & cleaned the house. They even did the dishes.
More and more often, police are turning to social media to help them solve crime. From murders, to missing persons, animal cruelty, to insurance fraud and all points in between, law enforcement has used the trail left by Facebook postings to solve a multitude of crimes.
A survey conducted by information provider LexisNexis Risk Solutions, asked 1,200 law enforcement professionals, including some at the federal level, about their use of social media as an investigative tool. They found four out of five make use of what criminals are putting out there on these sites with two-thirds officials stating that use of social media helps them solve crime more quickly.
Investigators primarily use Facebook & YouTube to identify individuals, specific locations, and collect information about suspects.
“Investigation and analysis of social media content provides a huge opportunity in terms of crime prevention and offender apprehension,” said Samantha Gwinn, a LexisNexis government solutions consultant.
“As law enforcement personnel continue to participate in formal training and gain an increased comfort level with the power and scope of social media, as well as its limitations, the value it provides will continue to rise.”