The Atlantic: Should Police Use Facebook To Track People?

Privacy symbol with digital globe, 3d renderAs more social interactions occur online, it stands to reason that more criminals would also use social media platforms to communicate. However, as discussed at length in a column in The Atlantic this week, there are many potential problems that could stem from law enforcement officials using the site to track crooks.

According to The Atlantic and Lexis Nexis research, 75 percent of police who monitor social media are self-taught while only nine percent said they had received formal training. If cops are going to use social media to keep tabs on citizens, it certainly seems like that number should go up. Meredith Broussard, the author of the column, argues that at the very least a system of ethics should be in place, or perhaps just an introduction of more human judgment.

“If American law enforcement is going to go deeper into the brave new world of data-driven policing, we need to create systems that have human values embedded in them,” she wrote. “If our technological systems are entrapping innocent citizens or tampering with the presumption of innocence, should they be used?”
Though police certainly aren’t snooping on everyone on Facebook, they do look at large groups of people in the same social networks as criminals. So even if you’re completely innocent, you never know if your name could cross their desks. The easiest way to make sure it doesn’t: tighten your security settings, and make sure no part of your profile is available for public view.

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