Criminals Beware the Internet Is Here!

Social media has now become a mainstay in our culture. We use social media to communicate and interact socially with our family and friends. Social media and the Internet allow us to share our whereabouts and latest experiences with just about everyone on the planet instantly with just a click of a button. The police department now understands this shift in culture and is using social media and the advancement in technology to their benefit. “Police are recognizing that a lot of present-day crimes are attached to social media. Even if the minuscule possibility existed that none of the persons involved were on social media, the crime would likely be discussed on social media by people who have become aware of it or the media organizations reporting it”.

Why social media is the New Police Investigative Tool?

Why are police so successful fighting crime with social media? It’s because a lot of us are addicted to social media and it’s our new form of communication. The addiction of social media has made it easier for police to catch criminals. Criminals tend to tell on them selves these days by simply not being able to stay off social media. We tell our friends confidential information through social media with the false narrative of thinking that what we say can’t be traced back to us. We even think that since we put our pages on private, that our information can’t be retrieved. However, that’s far from the truth. Bronx criminal Melvin Colon found this out the hard way.  Police authorities suspected Colon of crimes but lacked probable cause for a search. “Their solution: finding an informant who was friends with him on Facebook. There they gathered the bulk of the evidence needed for an indictment. Colon’s lawyers sought to use the Fourth Amendment to suppress that evidence, but the judge ruled that Colon’s legitimate expectation of privacy ended when he disseminated post to his friends. The court explained that Colons ‘friends’ were free to use the information however they wanted—including sharing it with the Government.” This illustrates that even information we think is private can still be accessed by police.

How Police use social media as an Investigative Tool?

“Most commonly, an officer views publicly available posts by searching for an individual, group, hashtag, or another search vector. Depending on the platform and the search, it may yield all the content responsive to the query or only a portion. When seeking access to more than is publicly available, police may use an informant (such as a friend of the target) or create an undercover account by posing as a fellow activist or alluring stranger”. This allows officers to communicate directly with the target and see content posted by both the target and their contacts that might otherwise be inaccessible to the public. Police also use social media to catch criminals through sting operations. “A sting operation is designed to catch a person in the act of committing a crime. Stings usually include a law enforcement officer playing the part as accessory to a crime, perhaps as a drug dealer or a potential customer of prostitution. After the crime is committed, the suspect is quickly arrested”. Another way social media is used as an investigative tool is through location tracking. “Location tracking links text, pictures and video to an exact geographical location and is a great tool for law enforcement to find suspects”. Due to location tagging, police can search for hot spots of crime and even gain instant photographic evidence from a crime. Social media is also used as an investigative public outreach tool. It helps the police connect with the public. It allows for police to communicate important announcements to the community and solicit tips on criminal investigations.

What does the law say about Police using social media?

There are few laws that specifically constrain law enforcement’s ability to engage in social media monitoring. “In the absence of legislation, the strongest controls over this surveillance tactic are often police departments’ individual social media policies and platform restrictions, such as Facebook’s real name policy and Twitter’s prohibition against using its API for surveillance”. Many people try to use fourth amendment as protections against police intrusion into their social media privacy. The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right of the people to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The inquiry against unreasonable searches and seizures is whether a person has a “reasonable expectation of privacy” and whether society recognizes that expectation as reasonable. The court states individuals do not have a recognized expectation of privacy in data publicly shared online. Law enforcement can also seek account information directly from social media companies. Under the Stored Communications Act, law enforcement can serve a warrant or subpoena on a social media company to get access to information about a person’s social media profile. The Stored Communications Act also permits service providers to voluntarily share user data without any legal process if delays in providing the information may lead to death or serious injury. “Courts have upheld warrants looking for IP logs to establish a suspect’s location, for evidence of communications between suspects, and to establish a connection between co-conspirators”.


Cancel Culture….. The Biggest Misconception of the 21st Century

Cancel Culture  refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.

Being held accountable isn’t new.

If a public figure has done something or has said something offensive to me why can’t I express my displeasure or discontinue my support for them? Cancel culture is just accountability culture. Words have consequences, and accountability is one of them. However, this is nothing new. We are judged by what we say in our professional and personal lives. For example, whether we like it or not when we’re on a job hunt we are held accountable for what we say or may have said in the past. According to Sandeep Rathore, (2020, May 5). 90% of Employers Consider an Applicant’s Social Media Activity During Hiring Process, employers believe that social media is important to assess job candidates. This article explains that these jobs are  searching your social media for certain red flags like, anything that can be considered hate speech, illegal or illicit content, negative comments about previous jobs or client, threats to people or past employers, confidential or sensitive information about people or previous employers. Seems like a prospective employer can cancel you for a job for things you may have done or said in the past. Sound familiar?

You ever been on a first date? Has your date ever said something so objectionable or offensive that you just cancel them after the first date? I’m sure it has happened to some people. This is just another example of people being held accountable for what they say.

Most public figures who are offended by cancel culture have a feeling of entitlement. They feel they have the right to say anything, even if it’s offensive and hurtful, and bear no accountability. In Sarah Hagi, (2019 November 19). Cancel Culture is not real, at least not in the way people believe it is, Hagi explained that Cancel Culture is turned into a catch-all for when people in power face consequences for their actions or receive any type of criticism, something that they’re not used to.”

What harm is Cancel Culture causing?

Many cancel culture critics say cancel culture is limiting free speech. This I don’t get. The very essence of cancel culture is free speech. Public figures have the right to say what they want and the public has the right to express disapproval and displeasure with what they said. Sometimes this comes in the form of boycotting, blogging, social media posting etc. Public figures who feel that they have been cancelled might have bruised egos, be embarrassed, or might have their career impacted a little but that comes as a consequence of free speech. A Public figure losing fans, customers, or approval in the public eye is not an infringement on their rights. It’s just the opposite. It’s the people of the public expressing their free speech. They have the right to be a fan of who they want, a customer of who they want, and to show approval for who they want. Lastly, Cancel Culture can be open dialogue but  rarely do we see the person that is on the receiving end of a call out wanting to engage in open dialogue with the people who are calling them out.

No public figures are actually getting cancelled.

According to AJ Willingham, (2021 March 7). It’s time to Cancel this talk of cancel culture, “people who are allegedly cancelled still prevail in the end”.  The article gives an example of when Dr. Sues was supposedly cancelled due to racist depictions in his book, but instead his book sales actually went up.  Hip Hop rapper Tory Lanez was supposedly cancelled for allegedly shooting  female rapper Megan the stallion in the foot. Instead of being cancelled he dropped an album describing what happened the night of the shooting and his album skyrocketed in sales. There are numerous examples that show that people are not really being cancelled, but instead simply being called out for their objectionable or offensive behavior.

Who are the real victims here?

In AJ Willingham, (2021 March 7). It’s time to Cancel this talk of cancel culture, the article states “there are real problems that exist…. to know the difference look at the people who actually suffer when these cancel culture wars play out.  There are men and women who allege wrong doing at the risk of their own career. Those are the real victims.” This a problem that needs to be identified in cancel culture debate. To many people are are prioritizing the feelings of the person that is being called out rather than the person that is being oppressed. In Jacqui Higgins-Dailey, (2020, September 3). You need to calm down : You’re getting called out, not cancelled, Dailey explains “ When someone of a marginalized group says they are being harmed, we (the dominant group) say the harm wasn’t our intent. But impact and intent are not the same. When a person doesn’t consider the impact their beliefs, thoughts, words and actions have on a marginalized group, they continue to perpetuate the silencing of that group. Call-out culture is a tool. Ending call-out culture silences marginalized groups who have been censored far too long. The danger of cancel culture is refusing to take criticism. That is stifling debate. That is digging into a narrow world view”.