Social media is central to communication, social interaction and business promotion today. While these tools can benefit your social life and business success, they can also hurt you if you do not use them correctly.
What you share online or in messages can become evidence of crimes you are involved in. You need to know the consequences of social media activity to avoid posting anything incriminating.
Privacy settings do not guarantee privacy
If you set any personal accounts to private, it limits who has access to your posts. However, it does not limit what your friends do with information you provide. Anyone who can see your private accounts has legal permission to share them with the government. Be aware of the possibility that incriminating photos, comments and messages can find their way in front of police eyes.
Deletions do not erase existence
Simply because you delete a post or message, or use a self-deleting app such as Snapchat, it does not mean those communications cease to exist. Though retrieving them can be legally challenging, anything you do online leaves a trace and roundabout access or recovery.
Police can create fake accounts
Just as many criminals do, police officers can create fake accounts and ask to friend or follow you so they can see your private information and activity. If you do not know who someone is, it is best not to grant access to your account.
Social media contributes to a larger picture
There may not be enough social media evidence to charge you with or convict you of a crime, but when combined with other evidence, it can:
- Establish links
- Uncover leads
- Confirm information
- Provide missing pieces to the puzzle
Avoid making common mistakes that can lead police to you. Be careful of what you make public and who you allow into your private circle. Avoid bragging about illegal behavior and communicating with other participants via social media. When facing charges, employ the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and ensure all evidence against you is permissible in court.