Police departments around the U.S. are taking predictive crime prevention to new levels by building fake user accounts on Facebook and other social media sites, reports Cop Block. Local undercover agents pose as members of the community, allowing them to gather personal information about suspects they consider at “high risk” for being involved in “future crime.”
The U.S. Department of Justice has actually published a social media guide for law enforcement officials. According to this document, officers create fraudulent profiles, even though that violates official Facebook policy.
Police departments are also using predictive analytical policing software.This allows them to select local neighborhoods to patrol, based on social networking posts. If people are emotionally upset, for instance, or advertising weed and posting it on social media, the software program labels the neighborhood “high risk,” telling cops to focus on the area.
One police officer said he “was looking for a suspect related to drug charges for over a month. When I looked him up on Facebook and requested him as a friend from a fictitious profile, he accepted” and “he kept ‘checkin in’ everywhere he went, so I was able to track him down very easily,” reports Business Insider.
“Social media is a valuable tool because you are able to see the activities of a target in his comfortable state,” wrote another officer. “Targets brag and post information in reference to travel, hobbies, places visited, appointments, circle of friends, family members, actions, etc.”