An article in an official FBI publication urges local law enforcement to monitor Facebook and Twitter for leads on criminal activity. And then it turns around and cautions officers not to endanger cases through clumsy use of social media. Robert D. Stuart of the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center wrote in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin that police need to aggressively use social networking services.
Stuart’s article, although aimed at relative newcomers to social media–Facebook walls and tweets are patiently explained–urges law enforcement to monitor the Internet for everything from suspects on the run to taunts by street gangs. However, police officers are also warned to use discretion when using Facebook on their personal accounts. According to the article, officers posting about their lack of sleep on the job in public status updates and posting publicly accessible photographs of drug-bust evidence to Facebook can endanger cases. Law enforcement officials are avid consumers of new technology; Fast Company recently wrote about police cars that scan nearby license plates for unpaid tickets and eyeglasses that upload a police officer’s field of vision to a secure cloud server.