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Social media used to find crime: who is following your news feed?

Whether you are on Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, law enforcement agencies are focusing on social media as a source for criminal activity. The NYPD has implemented a new social media unit to track leads and suspicious activity on sites such as Facebook. They look for things such as out-of-control house parties and unsolved crime. Law enforcement has found that people tend to brag about criminal activity through Facebook posts and Tweets.

Recently, a federal court held that Facebook posts and information is admissible in court, and can be used against you. The case involved a plaintiff claiming damages from a car accident. The court allowed information from his Facebook page, such as status posts and pictures, to be used to prove that the plaintiff wasn't suffering from the damages he claimed. He claimed he could not walk, sit, stand or ride in a vehicle. The information from Facebook revealed the plaintiff was going on motor cycle trips and "riding a mule."

The Pennsylvania Federal District Court acknowledged that the discovery into social media sites "requires the application of basic discovery principles in a novel context" and that "the challenge is to define appropriately broad limits ... on the discovery ability of social communications." The Court held that the information from the plaintiff's Facebook was discoverable material.

Bottom line, be careful what you post on the internet. Whether its Facebook or Twitter, understand that there is a chance this information may be used against you. Remember the internet is an open, public forum, and you never know who is following your news feed.

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