6 Reasons to Silence Your Social Media Accounts
If you’re arrested, the police will always read you your Miranda rights, starting with “You have the right to remain silent.” Most people are well-aware that it’s in their best interests to take advantage of this right, and they remain mum until their criminal attorneys in Boston is present. The problem is, people don’t always realize that their social media accounts are speaking volumes on their behalf. Keeping them active can do serious damage.
1. If you admit to doing anything illegal online, people will tell the police.
Obviously, it’s best not to break the law at all, but a lot of people who have committed crimes post about it online. Although it’s incredibly common these days, a prime example of this occurred in Florida a couple of years ago. A woman took photos of herself with wads of cash, called herself the “First Lady of Tax Fraud,” and was surprised that the feds caught up with her. To be clear, a person can also get into trouble with the law for saying they committed a crime that they didn’t, and for posting photos that look like a criminal act has occurred.
2. Law enforcement scans the net for criminal activity.
Even if friends remain loyal, law enforcement agents may still find the details anyway. They scan the Internet for keywords, and can even track someone down using the location information that’s often stored in a photo’s data.
3. You may unknowingly incriminate yourself, even before you are charged.
Long before police ever talk with a suspect, they spend a great deal of time investigating him. If you’re picked up by the police, even for a friendly chat, or to help with an investigation, chances are that the officers involved have already scoped out your social media accounts. They do this for several reasons. First, it helps them identify you when they meet you in person. Secondly, help them gain insights into your personality and behaviors, which helps them assess risk. If they think you’re dangerous, they’ll be far more careful when they approach you. Finally, they’re looking for evidence, and things they can use during your interrogation. If you’ve been found guilty of a felony, and there are recent photos of you with guns on your social media accounts, there’s a good chance they’ll leverage that against you. If they ask where you were at a certain date and time, and your accounts say where you were, they’ll know if you are lying. They may even use this as a baseline, when trying to gauge how you react when you tell a lie.
4. Law enforcement might use publicly posted information to bond with you, to throw you off guard.
A common strategy when interrogating a suspect is to bond with him. If details about your life are posted online, the police may say that they share the same interests as you. While this isn’t inherently bad, it tends to put people at ease or in a comfort zone, and they open up more to law enforcement. This kind of casual conversation makes it easy for an officer to twist your words, in an attempt to make you confess. It’s been found to be highly effective, even on people with no involvement in a crime.
5. Your posts and comments may become evidence in a trial.
If it’s public and relevant to a case, it may be admissible in court. Seemingly benign things can be taken out of context and used against you. This is common in personal injury cases as well, where the defense tries to prove that the victim wasn’t injured, because social media posts indicate the person’s lifestyle hasn’t changed.
6. Law enforcement may be able to gain access to your personal messages.
Locking your profile down so that only friends can see your posts isn’t enough. Big companies like Facebook and Google will comply with a request from law enforcement to hand over your details, but sometimes it doesn’t even come to this. Previous cases have used data gathered from friend’s accounts, and judges have also ordered people to provide passwords, or log into the account during a hearing.
The latest stats show that 74% of Internet users visit social media websites, so odds are this applies to you. Do yourself a favor and lock down your social media accounts. If you choose to keep them, be very careful about what you share on them.