Check out this very interesting article from Gary Craig in today’s paper on how social media is being used by both prosecutors and defense attorneys.
Not to toot my own horn – oh nevermind, I’ll just toot it anyhow – I have been front and center in the use of social media on criminal cases since the days when MySpace was the dominant social networking site. A couple quick war stories:
Once I was working a murder case where the suspect had been on the run for the better part of a year. We kept tabs on his girlfriend’s MySpace page, and sure enough one day she posted a photo of her, him and their child – who was a toddler in the picture but an infant at the time of the murder. The photo was taken on the porch of his mother’s house and was clearly recent. A search warrant was obtained on this basis and the suspect was located hiding in the attic – with the TV on and his game of Madden on pause.
In another murder case, one of our main witnesses was refusing to cooperate and was likewise in hiding. Through his Facebook page, we created a fake profile of an, ahem, young lady and sent him a friend request. A few chat sessions and wall postings later, we conviced him to meet “the girl” at a motel. In the meantime we had secured a warrant for his arrest, and when he arrived at the motel he was apprehended. He went on to be a very good witness and very helpful and cooperative.
The point here is obvious – be very very careful about what you put out there on social media. And if you find yourself a suspect in a crime or under arrest, by all means do not talk about your case in any way shape or form on your Twitter feed or Facebook page. Nothing good can come of it.