Maybe you’ve joked about what the authorities would think of your internet search history or your social media posts — but you probably shouldn’t joke too much. As it turns out, the police really may be watching your social media posts.
Take, for example, the 11 people who were recently arrested in Denver. Calling themselves “The Sopranos,” the group broadcast their auto theft crimes, weapons offenses and drug crimes on social media, even live streaming them.
They’re now facing a combined 91 criminal counts, and they’ve handed much of the evidence the prosecution needs to the authorities through their own social media posts.
The police are more conscious of what’s on the internet than you think
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the internet is so vast that there’s no way the police will notice a post here or there or a livestream or two — but they’re wrong. Not only have the police become very savvy at using social media, the odds are high they can get access to everything from your browsing history to your smartphone call records.
They may not even need a warrant. If your information is posted on social media, for example, it’s fair game to anybody who can find it. They may just buy your data from a “data broker,” because the odds are good you have signed away your privacy rights on a dozen apps or electronic contracts without realizing it.
If they do need a warrant, the police may use what’s called a “reverse search warrant” that allows for broad data collection from a large number of people. You don’t even have to be a suspect in a crime for the police to suddenly find you. In essence, this is a warning, and you should take heed: Your electronic usage really can be used against you.
It’s always best to avoid trouble with the law. If you make a mistake, however, take immediate steps to protect your rights and your future.