Police, schools tap social media to track behavior


Helen A.S. Popkin
NBC News
October 6, 2013

A teenager who claimed “sarcasm” after talking on Facebook about shooting up a kindergarten spent months in jail this year for making a “terroristic threat.” Over the summer, Instagram photos of guns and money led to New York City’s largest gun bust ever. A mom’s Facebook photo of her baby with a bong led to her 2010 arrest.

While criminals — or those guilty of ill-placed sarcasm — aren’t wising up about social media oversharing, tools for monitoring Americans online are increasingly accessible and affordable to authorities, no NSA-level clearance required. Those in charge are monitoring more and more and social networks are happy to comply, especially where extra revenue is involved.

If you share something publicly on social media, “you should expect the world to read it,” said Andy Sellars, a staff attorney at the Digital Media Law Project. “And you should expect that world to include law enforcement.”

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