In a landmark ruling issued last Friday, U.S. District Judge William Pauley III ruled that an accused criminal, Melvin Colon of New York, can’t rely on the Fourth Amendment to hide evidence on his Facebook profile. Federal investigators had tapped into his profile using an informant who was friends with him on Facebook.
Colon frequently posted messages about violent acts and drug deals, which the government used as information to obtain a search warrant. This is part of a larger, ongoing investigation in New York City. The judge compared the government’s ability to use Facebook evidence obtained from a suspect’s Facebook friends to wire-tapping a phone when only one party agrees to it. If a criminal shares posts with his friends, then those posts are public and can be used however the recipient wants to use them – including giving them to the government as evidence.
Both government agencies and private companies alike are mining social media to gain additional knowledge. Whether it’s a criminal investigation like this one or insurance companies reportedly combing through Facebook profiles to determine the party at fault in an auto accident, the freedom and public nature of social media can work both for and against its users. Ultimately, users have to be aware of the public status of online information as well as the ease with which it can be obtained. Don’t post anything you don’t want to be found or seen.
BitDefender Safego is a Facebook application you can install that will scan your News Feed and help keep you safe from scams on Facebook.
PRIVATE WiFi® is a Personal VPN that encrypts everything you send and receive. Don’t access Facebook from a public WiFi hotspot without it.
Do Not Track + is a FREE browser plugin created by Abine. This easy to install plugin keeps websites from tracking you. If you value your online privacy, then you should definitely take advantage of this free product.
Action Alert | Free Parental Control offers a 100% free Internet safety solution designed for parents. There is also a Maximum Protection option for parents that need a more advanced set of tools.