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Oversharing on social media can turn into self-incrimination

The International Association of Chiefs of Police reports that many law enforcement agencies are using social media to notify people of safety concerns. The organization surveyed over 500 agencies in 2016 to see how law enforcement was using social media. It also found that 76 percent of those agencies used social media to seek tips on crime and 70 percent used social media platforms as intelligence gathering for investigations. 

Information police get from social media

Most people do not openly post video of crimes in action, although some have. Social media posts are more likely to give the police a way of tracking associates or a timeline for a particular person. For example, if you were to post a picture of yourself partying and drinking, then get arrested for a DUI, that picture could be used in court to demonstrate that you had been drinking. Privacy settings are no guarantee of privacy when it comes to the internet.

Law enforcement might use a social media post to demonstrate you were in the neighborhood when a crime occurred. You might even be called in for questioning if you like a friend's post that discusses criminal activity. 

Legal implications

In the IACP survey, only 80 percent of the agencies questioned actually had a social media policy. Another 11 percent were developing policies for using social media, and 9 percent did not have one. Without a clear policy as to the use of social media, it is quite possible that the police could violate a person's rights when gathering evidence. 

Protect your rights 

If you are arrested for a crime, it is important not to talk to anyone, the state's attorney, the police or friends and family, without a defense lawyer present.

You should not post anything on social media that police could use against you, but you should not delete evidence either without speaking to your lawyer. Social media is a great way to keep in touch with your friends, but be cautious about what you post. 

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