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Facebook aids police in many criminal investigations

Millions of people use Facebook and other social media networks every day to stay connected with friends and up to date with current events. But social media is being used in other ways too.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the country use Facebook and other social media sites as a way to catch suspected criminals.

For example, Bring Me The News reported that a Wisconsin man was recently arrested after the Washburn County Sheriff’s Office posted photos of the suspect on its Facebook page and asked for the public’s help locating him. 

Just an hour after the photos were uploaded to the social media network, police announced that they had the suspect in custody. They said the Facebook post had led to the arrest.

According to a 2012 study involving 1,200 law enforcement departments throughout the country, 80 percent said they use social media to assist with criminal investigations. The tactic is especially common in smaller communities.

In addition to using social media as a modern-day “wanted” sign, police also comb it heavily for evidence in criminal cases.

For example, police could use the location features of social media to determine if a suspect was in the area when a crime was committed. Suspects have also posted incriminating photos or statements to their social media accounts that have led to arrests and convictions, such as a defendant in a DUI case posting something about being intoxicated prior to an arrest.

But at the same time, social media can also be used by savvy criminal defense attorneys to back up an alibi or prove that someone else was responsible for a crime.

Ultimately, social media has influenced many aspects of our society, including criminal law. Remember that before you post and photos or statements that could be used against you in a criminal case.  

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